As Black Sea ports in Ukraine - harboring up to 98% Of Ukraine’s grain and wheat exports - remain under blockade, those already facing dire food insecurity will suffer the most, warns IRC. With Ukraine producing much of the world’s grain, wheat and fertilizer, food prices worldwide have already skyrocketed by 41%, and an additional 47 million people are projected to experience acute hunger this year, according to a recent IRC report.

This blockade will cause global food prices to rise even further and may push countries in East Africa such as Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia — which depend on Russia and Ukraine for 90% of their wheat and are already facing a record drought — into famine. But the consequences of this war are already having far reaching implications for those living in conflict-affected regions.

The IRC calls for these blockades to be lifted immediately. As international attention continues to focus on the Russia-Ukraine war, there is a risk of funding and attention being diverted from these hunger crises. All related Humanitarian Response Plans remain less than one-third funded, requiring an additional 10 billion from the international community - less than 2% of the US military budget.

David Miliband, IRC President & CEO, said,

“Ukraine has long been the bread basket not just for its neighbors in the region or for Europe, but for the world. Blockades on ports in the Black Sea are holding thousands of tons of wheat, grain and fertilizer hostage - with devastating consequences for millions already caught in growing hunger crises worldwide. These blockades must be lifted immediately.

“In places like Ethiopia, where 8.6 million are going hungry as the region is pushed into a catastrophic hunger crisis, the UN humanitarian appeals remain less than one-third funded. These millions are being doubly punished as life-saving supplies are held hostage.

“The war in Ukraine and its knock-on effects on other humanitarian contexts cannot be underestimated, and are a tragic representation of the System Failure of the international community to address and prevent humanitarian suffering. World leaders must pour all possible diplomatic efforts into ending these blockages, immediately increasing funding to meet existing growing humanitarian need - especially hunger - and save lives.”

The IRC launched an emergency response to the crisis in Ukraine in February 2022 and has been working directly and with local partners to reach those most in need. We are in Poland, Ukraine and Moldova, delivering vital services including cash assistance, mental health support, medical supplies and equipment, and specialized social service support for children and survivors of violence.