Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has spoken of the need for Ireland to do more on the UN Security Council to raise awareness of the international food crisis, which has the potential to lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.
He added that Ireland must strongly advocate for accountability for those who would seek to weaponise hunger as a tool of war, and to ensure that World Food Programme supply chains are protected.
The Wicklow TD said:
“We are in the midst of a global food crisis which is being increasingly exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. The failure of the international community to address climate change, the impact of Covid-19, regional conflicts, and now the potential of widespread famine as a consequence of the war in Ukraine is leading to a humanitarian catastrophe.
“Time is running out. The government needs to step up. There is no time anymore to stand on the sidelines. Ireland needs to lead the charge for greater resources to address the food crisis.
“In East Africa alone, in the region of the Horn of Africa, in the countries of Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, there are 23 million people at risk of severe hunger. In Somalia alone, 350,000 children are at risk of death in the months ahead.
“In West Africa a further 38 million people are at risk of hunger. There is one person dying from hunger every 48 seconds.
“The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which assisted close to 10 million refugees across the globe in 2021, has been forced to significantly reduce its rations to refugees across all of its operations. In East Africa, rations have been cut by 50% for 75% of all refugees supported by the WFP. The reality is that food assistance will mean the difference between life and death for many refugees who have no other means of support.
“Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus provide 12% of the world’s traded calories. Grain from Ukraine helped feed 400 million people globally in 2021. Russia is currently blockading 18 million tonnes of grain and oilseed in Ukrainian ports. This is a war crime.
“In Kenya, the price of flour has trebled in six months.
“The UN High Commission for Refugees released figures this week that reveal that 67% of refugees and asylum seekers originated from countries with food crisis in 2021.
“The Irish Government needs to step up. This is why other countries voted for Ireland to be on the UN Security Council. They want to see Ireland capitalise on our country’s moral standing as a military neutral, and non-aligned nation, to call for action.”