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WARSAW: An international donor conference has raised US$6.5 billion for humanitarian aid to 7.7 million Ukrainian citizens internally displaced and a further 5.5 million now refugees in other countries.

After 10 weeks of Russia’s invasion, a new report from the World Food Programme (WFP) says conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity as ‘Putin’s War’ reveals the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems, with serious consequences for global food and nutrition security.

“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” noted WFP executive director David Beasley. “Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm - and now we’ve got the war in Ukraine piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe.

“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation. We urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late,” he added.

Published by the Global Network Against Food Crises – an alliance of UN agencies including the WFP plus the EU and NGOs – the report reveals that around 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at Crisis or Catastrophe levels in 2021.

This was an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with record numbers in 2020. Of these, 570 000 in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen faced starvation and death.

According to the report, the key drivers behind rising acute food insecurity in 2021 were:

• Conflict pushed 139 million people in 24 countries into acute food insecurity, up from around 99 million in 2020).
• Weather extremes hit over 23 million people in eight countries, up from 15.7 million in 15 the previous year.
• Over 30 million people in 21 countries suffered from economic shocks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the war in Ukraine continues unabated, 47 million more people will face acute hunger - due to Russia’s theft of the country's farm equipment and destruction of its wheat supply - adding to a record 276 million people worldwide, an increase of 126 million since prior to the pandemic.

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen commented: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jeopardizes global food security. The international community must act to avert the largest food crisis in history and the social, economic, and political upheaval that could follow.”
 
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