End of grain deal ignites food insecurity – WFP

The World Food Programme is warning food insecurity in Eastern Africa will only get worse after Russia pulled out of the U.N.-brokered grain deal.

The deal allowed Ukraine to safely export grain through the Black Sea, and aid agencies say its collapse will hit some of the world’s poorest countries hardest.

Michael Dunford is the WFP’s Eastern Africa director.

“This is going to make our ability to feed hungry people that much more difficult. Already, there are 80 million people in the region who are acutely food insecure. A whole range of factors are driving that. It’s conflict, it’s climate, it’s the economic shocks, and of course, it’s the hangover from COVID. This suspension of the initiative will just exacerbate what is already a terrible situation.”

On top of all that, Dunford says the Sudan conflict adds a layer of difficulty to providing aid in the region.

The war has led to the displacement of more than three million people – including more than 700,000 who have crossed into neighboring countries.

“We’ve never seen the region at such a high risk as it is today. In fact, at the beginning of the year, we were saying that the region was on fire. In light of what’s now happening in Sudan and the other factors that are playing out, it feels like the region’s actually been doused with petrol and the fire is now out of control.”

On Tuesday, the United Nations said it would continue to push for a solution.

“The Secretary-General will continue to explore all possible avenues to ensure that Ukrainian grain or Russian grain and Russian fertilizer are out into the global market. That is, that is a determination of his. There are a number of ideas being floated.”

The Black Sea grain deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey last July to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.

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