The U.N. food chief is warning that the war in Ukraine has created “a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe” and will have a global impact “beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II” because farmers from the country, which was the breadbasket of the world, are on the front lines fighting Russia and already high food prices are skyrocketing.
David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that his agency, which was feeding 125 million people before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, was already beginning to cut rations because of rising food, fuel and shipping costs for millions of families around the world. In war-torn Yemen, he said, 8 million people just had their food allotment cut to 50% “and now we’re looking at going to zero rations.”
The war in Ukraine is decimating the country, “turning the breadbasket of the world to breadlines” for millions of its people, Beasley said. But it is also devastating countries around the world, like Egypt, which is 85% dependent on Ukraine grain and Lebanon which was 81% dependent in 2020.
Ukraine and Russia produce 30% of the global wheat supply, 20% of the global maize supply and 75-80% of the sunflower seed oil.