US ambassador to UN accuses Russia of aggravating precarious food situation in Yemen and elsewhere by invading Ukraine
Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a UN Security Council meeting on war-torn Yemen that the World Food Program has identified the poorest nation in the Arab world as one of the most affected countries by rising wheat prices and the lack of imports from Ukraine.
Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, retaliated by saying: “The main factor of instability and the source of the problem today is not the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, but the measures of sanctions imposed on our country seeking to cut off all supplies from Russia and the supply chain, apart from the supplies that these Western countries need, i.e. energy.
“If you really want to help the world avoid a food crisis, you have to lift the sanctions you imposed on yourselves, your sanctions of choice indeed, and poor countries will immediately feel the difference,” he said. . “And if you’re not ready to do that, then don’t get involved in grandstanding and mislead everyone.”
The exchange came a day after a UN task force warned that war threatened to devastate the economies of many developing countries which now face even higher food and energy costs and increasingly difficult financial conditions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched his report by saying: “As many as 1.7 billion people – a third of whom already live in poverty – are now at high risk from disruptions to food, energy and financial resources that lead to increased poverty and hunger.
Thirty-six countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, including some of the world’s poorest countries, he said, and wheat and maize prices have increased by 30% since the beginning of the year.
Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the UN trade and development agency which coordinated the task force, said 1.7 billion people live in 107 countries who are “severely exposed” to at least one dimension of the crisis – rising food prices, rising energy prices and tightening financial conditions.
The task force said 69 of the countries, with a population of 1.2 billion, are facing a “perfect storm” and are severely or significantly exposed to all three crises. They include 25 countries from Africa, 25 from Asia and the Pacific and 19 from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The UN announced on Thursday that it is releasing $100 million from its emergency fund for seven hunger hotspots, Yemen and six African countries – Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Sudan of the South and Nigeria.
“Hundreds of thousands of children go to sleep hungry every night as their parents worry about how to feed them,” UN humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement. communicated. “A war on the other side of the world makes their prospects even worse. This allowance will save lives.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric was asked about Polyansky’s comments and whether António Guterres fears the sanctions will drive up food prices.
“I think it would be safe to say there would be no sanctions if there was no conflict,” Dujarric replied.