Food crisis: millions still uprooted

The war in Ukraine, which is blocking cereal exports, has caused a serious food crisis, increasing the flow of refugees and displaced persons.

Food crisis: millions still uprooted

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The war in Ukraine has spawned a serious food crisis that has already uprooted millions of people, and it doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon. If the world fails to stem this unprecedented crisis, the record high of 100 million uprooted people could swell by “a large number of people”, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has warned. “What is done to respond to the food insecurity crisis […] is of crucial importance to prevent more people from being displaced”, insisted Filippo Grandi, during a point of view. hurry. He doesn't know how many, “but it will be a lot,” the high commissioner said, presenting the 2021 annual report of the organization he heads.

The Russian-led war is depriving the world of grain and fertilizer, driving up prices and threatening millions of people around the world with hunger. “The impact, if not resolved quickly, will be devastating,” Grandi warns, before recovering: “It's already devastating. This disaster in the making occupies the ministerial meeting of the WTO, meeting in Geneva, as well as the session of the Human Rights Council and the highest bodies of the United Nations.

At the end of 2021, the world had 89.3 million refugees and internally displaced people, more than twice as many as 10 years ago, including 53.2 million internally displaced people and 27.1 million refugees. But the Russian invasion has thrown between 12 and 14 million Ukrainians on the roads to seek refuge elsewhere in their country or abroad. A human flow which, for the first time, crossed, in May, the bar of 100 million uprooted people in the world. “Every year over the past decade the numbers have been steadily increasing,” recalled Filippo Grandi. “Either the international community mobilizes to respond to this human tragedy, to end the conflicts and achieve lasting solutions, or this dramatic trend will continue. »

When we want we can

A huge outpouring of solidarity – from peoples and states – welcomed Ukrainians across Europe. A contrast with the treatment often reserved for refugees from other countries at war, Syrians or Afghans. Grandi, who remembers leaders telling him, “We're full” when the refugees came from elsewhere, sees it as a sign that when you want you can. “I'm not naive, I understand the context and that it can't always be like this, but it proves the important point that welcoming refugee flows to the coasts or borders of wealthy countries is manageable,” insists- he. He also points to the role of politicians in helping people accept Ukrainians instead of hammering that “these people are coming to steal your jobs, threaten your security, and destroy your values.”

When it comes to the financial aid available, the contrast is the same. Large sums are immediately available to help Ukrainian refugees, when they seem to be lacking whenever the UN asks for them for serious crises. “We cannot have an unfair response”, as was the case with the anti-Covid-19 vaccines, estimated the high commissioner, to whom the donor countries affirm “all that we give you for Ukraine , this is in addition” to the sums promised to other crises. “Right now the numbers don't show that,” Grandi admitted, but he wants to believe the money will come.

Filippo Grandi took the opportunity to reiterate his “great concern” for the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, two regions that combine everything that forces people to flee: conflicts, insecurity, poor governance and the often violent effects of climate change. “The Sahel is really the perfect illustration of how these things happen,” “a really vicious circle of many factors,” Grandi said. For now, people are fleeing to their country or to neighbours, “but I wouldn't be surprised if with the added food insecurity we see people leaving the area,” he warned.

Lasting Consequences

The invasion of Ukraine “dealt a terrible blow to international cooperation”, according to Grandi. Even if the conflict were to end soon – which he doubts – “the fractures between the West and Russia and even between senior members of the Security Council are so serious that they will take a long time to heal”. And “if it's not cured, I don't know how we're going to be able to manage this crisis”, asks the high commissioner.

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