Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent call for the removal of sanctions against the Russian Agricultural Bank and the unblocking of accounts for Russian companies involved in food and fertilizer exports has raised concerns over the global food crisis.
The grain agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July 2022 to facilitate grain exports through the Black Sea, expired on Monday, exacerbating the impact of the war in Ukraine on food supplies.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres expressed regret over Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement, emphasizing the severe consequences it poses for millions of people facing hunger and the global cost-of-living crisis.
The Black Sea region, known as the “breadbasket of the world,” supplies nearly 30% of the world’s wheat and 75 essential oils used in food preparation. Additionally, Russia and Ukraine account for 20% of the world’s exports of corn, mineral fertilizer, and natural gas, crucial components for grain production and cultivation.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted global supply chains, leading to scarcity and increased prices for grains and fertilizer. As a result, vulnerable populations were disproportionately affected by the crisis.
The U.N. highlighted that over 35 million tons of food commodities were exported from three Ukrainian ports to 45 countries on three continents in the past 12 months, helping to stabilize global food prices.
The suspension of the Black Sea Initiative comes amid allegations of a second attack on the bridge connecting Crimea and Russia, further intensifying tensions in the region.
The World Food Program, since July 2022, has transported 799,000 tons of wheat to countries severely affected by hunger, providing a lifeline to vulnerable populations in places like Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen.
The failure to renew the Black Sea Initiative has raised alarms among humanitarian organizations. Save the Children’s humanitarian advocacy and policy lead, Nana Ndeda expressed concern over the catastrophic impact on vulnerable children in Africa and the Middle East who rely on grain staples.
The situation remains critical as millions of lives are at stake, and the international community faces an urgent challenge to address the deepening global food crisis.
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