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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is devastating for the people of Ukraine. More than 3 million have already fled the country and thousands have been killed by the Russian military. The world community must continue to help the Ukrainian people and leaders must redouble their efforts to end the bombings and killings.
At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the far-reaching impacts of the invasion, which stem both from the destruction and disruption of life in Ukraine and the harsh sanctions placed on Russia in hopes of easing its aggression.
Price increases, which have been seen at gas pumps and stores in America, are also hitting aid organizations that are working to feed and help people around the globe. Food shortages around the world are also a possibility. Russia and Ukraine together exported nearly a third of the world’s wheat. Ukraine was a major supplier of food to the United Nations hunger relief efforts.
“The conflict comes at a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs, as a ring of fire circles the earth with climate shocks, conflict, COVID-19 and rising costs driving millions closer to starvation,” the World Food Program, which is part of the UN, warned in a recent report.
For example, the war is likely to worsen an already dire situation in Afghanistan, where more than half the population is going hungry. Nearly 23 million Afghans are not getting enough food to eat; and nearly 9 million are at immediate risk of starvation.
Drought has hampered farming in Afghanistan and U.S. sanctions against the Taliban have led to rising prices and a shortage of money to buy food.
“Fluctuating border restrictions, ever-rising import costs and a cash shortage spurred by U.S. sanctions on the new Taliban government, have, in some cases, doubled or tripled the price of basic necessities in Afghanistan in the past year,” The New York Times recently reported.
“It’s potentially apocalyptic,” Graeme Smith, a senior consultant for the International Crisis Group, told the paper. “A huge surge in food prices could really tip Afghanistan over the edge.”
The World Food Program has already had to reduce rations in other countries, including Yemen, where more than 16 million people are food insecure and there are pockets of famine-like conditions. Emergency aid operations in Syria and Ethiopia are also likely to be harmed by the war and its disruptions, the program warned in the report.
“With our funding leveling off because donor nations’ treasuries are so stretched, we have had to slash rations to refugees and other vulnerable populations across East Africa and the Middle East,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said earlier this month, while he was in Poland working with refugees from Ukraine. “Halved rations mean hungry children eating the equivalent of just one bowl of cereal each day.”
The crisis in Ukraine has rightly caught the world’s attention. But, we can’t forget the suffering in other parts of the world. Charitable contributions, if you are able, can literally help feed the world.