Russia would still pose a threat to peace in Europe even after a possible ceasefire, says Polish foreign minister

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is contributing to a sharp rise in the number of severely food insecure people in Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations World Food Program warned in a statement on Tuesday, adding pressure on a region that is already suffering from the fallout of Covid-19 and the effects of climate change.

Between December 2021 and March 2022, the WFP said that, according to recent surveys conducted by the organization, the number of severely food insecure people “exploded” by more than 500,000. Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

“Millions of people could be pushed into poverty and hunger if the conflict in Ukraine continues. The region is already facing Covid-19, rising costs and climate extremes,” said Lola Castro, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We could return to the spikes in food insecurity seen at the height of the pandemic, as job and income losses, food inflation and other driving factors hit the most vulnerable people.”

The WFP said the war in Ukraine has led to soaring commodity and energy prices, leading to rising food inflation which threatens the region as several countries are heavily dependent on grain imports. He added that Caribbean countries that import substantial amounts of food will be particularly hard hit due to “skyrocketing” sea freight costs.

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly 30% of world trade, and Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest corn exporter and fifth-largest wheat exporter, according to the US State Department. . The WFP, which helps tackle global food insecurity, buys around half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not open.

Since the start of the war, Russia has prevented Ukraine from exporting goods from its ports, fueling fears of a global food crisis.

“Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities for exporting food – our grain, our barley, our sunflower and more,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.

The United States and Ukraine have also accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain supplies, which Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called “fake news”, according to news agencies. Russian state. CNN has viewed satellite images showing two Russian ships docking and loading what is believed to be stolen Ukrainian grain. CNN also tracked a Russian ship carrying Ukrainian grain from Crimea to Syria after being turned away from ports in Egypt and Lebanon.

CNN’s Alex Marquardt and Tim Lister contributed to this post.

Mary I. Bruner