• As the war in Ukraine continues to impact global food security, an additional 47 million people could face acute hunger.
  • Yemen, which has endured 7 years of conflict that has left over 19 million people in need of food assistance, relies on Ukraine or Russia for 46% of its wheat imports.
  • Meanwhile, over 7 million children under the age of five are suffering acute malnutrition in the Sahel region, of which 30-50% of wheat imports also come from Ukraine or Russia.
  • Over 13 million are already at risk of acute food insecurity in the Horn of Africa. Somalia could be worst impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, depending on the region for 92% of its wheat imports.
  • As ministers gather for the Global Food Security Ministerial hosted by US govt, & UN Security Council open debate on food security & Ukraine, it is vital that the global community urgently mitigate the shockwaves of the conflict in food insecure contexts.

With 47 million more people projected to experience acute hunger in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine, up from 276 million people pre-conflict, new analysis by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) points to the ‘hunger fallout’ from the war and the threats to global food security especially in the world’s crisis zones. 

Following discussion by G7 Foreign Ministers on the impact of the war in Ukraine on global food security and plans for a “Global Alliance for Food Security” on the Development Ministers’ agenda this week, the G7 have a unique and immediate opportunity to combat existing and worsening hunger crises worldwide. Anemic donor funding and growing shocks to wheat and fuel supply matched with political inaction in the face of violations of the rules-based international system cause millions to go without food and other vital essentials. If the right political decisions are not made and enough funding is not immediately allocated to hunger crises in countries and regions such as the Sahel, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, failure to act will cost countless lives. For example, the humanitarian response plan for Somalia, where over 6 million people are acutely food insecure, remains significantly underfunded. Likewise, in Yemen, where the number of people suffering famine-like conditions is set to rise five-fold in 2022, the humanitarian appeal remains more than US$3 billion underfunded.

A new policy brief published by the IRC highlights the role the G7 can play to prevent the Ukraine crisis from compounding existing hunger crises across the globe and outlines the following key recommendations:

  1. Don’t forget other crises and increase funding to prevent acute hunger and famine: Increase overall aid budgets in line with the target of investing 0.7 percent of GNI in international aid. Existing funding commitments for humanitarian crises must be honored by fulfilling 2022 humanitarian response plans and addressing the funding shortfalls of humanitarian agencies affected by rising food prices. Anticipatory financing must also be provided to humanitarian contexts known to be dependent on Ukrainian and Russian food products. 
  2. Scale up proven interventions to mitigate the hunger fallout from the war in Ukraine: Support for long-term and inclusive social protection programmes and safety nets in countries affected by fragility, conflict and displacement must be increased to protect vulnerable populations from price spikes, while enhancing linkages between social protection and poverty reduction, food security and nutrition outcomes.
  3. Fix the broken food system: G7 members should move ahead with the establishment of a global alliance for food security and a “Global Shield” against climate risks as proposed by Germany, working closely with vulnerable and affected countries to ensure needs are met. Priority should be given to investments in agroecological approaches to reduce dependency on food imports. 
  4. Strengthen humanitarian diplomacy and end impunity: G7 members should strengthen commitments to International Humanitarian Law and ensure investigation and accountability for violations. States should support the suspension of the veto in the UN Security Council in cases of mass atrocities so that the Council can effectively respond to the world’s most severe crises.

Through swift and coordinated action, the G7 can save lives, build the resilience of crisis-affected communities and preempt future shocks. Priority actions must include combining humanitarian aid - focused on cash transfers and gender- and climate-sensitive interventions addressing malnutrition and food security - with anticipatory approaches and diplomatic efforts to ensure humanitarian access and the upholding of international humanitarian law.

David Miliband, President and CEO International Rescue Committee, comments: “The war in Ukraine is only exacerbating crisis-level food insecurity in some of the world’s poorest countries. Millions already pushed to the brink by COVID-19, conflict and climate change now face famine -all before the eyes of international donors.

"G7 ministers have the unique opportunity to save lives and preempt potential future shocks through a meaningful and coordinated response to this unprecedented global hunger crisis.

"The war in Ukraine already represents the capstone in our global age of impunity. The IRC has warned that the global system for protecting civilians, preventing conflict and meeting growing humanitarian need is failing. The worst outcome would be standing by in the coming weeks as the world’s most vulnerable pay the price with their lives.”

Laura Kyrke-Smith, IRC UK Executive Director, says: “Building on the commitment we have seen from the FCDO with the recent launch of our Protecting Milestones appeal to fight against increasing malnutrition and food insecurity, the G7 represents an opportunity for the UK government to do more to combat rising hunger and ensure that the crisis in Ukraine does not exacerbate this suffering. With 276 million people facing acute hunger today, the scale of the humanitarian needs could not be clearer."

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Notes to the editors:

For every £1 donated to our Protecting Milestones appeal between 3 May and 3 August 2022, the UK government will contribute £1 of UK aid to fund a new programme to treat malnutrition in Nigeria, up to £2 million. A generous IRC donor will also match the original donation, meaning your gift will go three times as far.

Your support, and the matching funds provided by the UK government, is vital to funding the IRC’s life-changing programmes around the world. The funds provided by the UK government will go to a new programme to treat malnutrition in northeast Nigeria. 

It is the compassion and generosity of our donors that make our work possible. Together, we can help children and families in crisis access urgently-needed health care, education, protection services and more. We can ensure the needs of women and children — who are disproportionately impacted by crisis and conflict — are met. We can help children living through conflict recover and reach their full potential. And we can empower people around the world to advocate for their rights and make their voices heard.