UN chief warns of 'catastrophe' from global food shortage

  • FILE -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses reporters during a news conference in New York, United States, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. The head of the United Nations has warned the world faces 'catastrophe' because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

    FILE -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses reporters during a news conference in New York, United States, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. The head of the United Nations has warned the world faces 'catastrophe' because of the growing shortage of food around the globe. Associated Press

  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addresses the media during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022 on Germany's contribution against the global hunger crisis on the occasion of the International Conference on Food Security at the Federal Press Conference. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday Moscow's claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia's invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was 'úcompletely untenable." (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

    German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addresses the media during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022 on Germany's contribution against the global hunger crisis on the occasion of the International Conference on Food Security at the Federal Press Conference. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday Moscow's claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia's invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was 'úcompletely untenable." (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP) Associated Press

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, address the media during a joint press conference after a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP)

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, address the media during a joint press conference after a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP) Associated Press

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, address the media during a joint press conference after a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP)

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, address the media during a joint press conference after a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP) Associated Press

  • Front from left, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio,  chat prior to a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP)

    Front from left, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, chat prior to a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Friday, June 24, 2022. (John MacDougall/Pool Photo via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/24/2022 7:20 AM

BERLIN -- The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces 'úcatastrophe'Ě because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an 'úunprecedented global hunger crisis'Ě already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

 

'úThere is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,'Ě he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. 'úAnd 2023 could be even worse.'Ě

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

'úThis year's food access issues could become next year's global food shortage,'Ě he said. 'úNo country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.'Ě

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

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He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting's host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow's claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia's invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was 'úcompletely untenable."

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres' comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

'úBut it was Russia's war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,'Ě Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'úThe sanctions that we've imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,'Ě he said.

____

Follow AP's coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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