The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has called for the reopening of ports in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa to help rein in the global hunger crisis.
The ports in Odesa and other Ukrainian Black Sea ports have been blocked because of the war, leaving millions of metric tons of grain sitting in silos.
Ukraine is a major breadbasket for countries in the Middle East and North Africa that depend on imports; in the eight months before the war began, almost 51 million metric tons of grain transited through Ukraine's Black Sea ports, said the WFP in a news release on Friday.
If the ports don't reopen, “mountains of grain” will go to waste, while “WFP and the world struggle to deal with an already catastrophic global hunger crisis,” said the release.
“Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full. At the same time, 44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation. We have to open up these ports so that food can move in and out of Ukraine. The world demands it because hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
At the start of 2022, 276 million people were already facing acute hunger. That number is expected to rise by another 47 million people if the war in Ukraine continues, according to the agency’s analysis.
The United States and Europe will feel the pain, too, with increasing prices for important agricultural goods.