CAIRO – As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, the soaring cost of food staples in import-dependent Middle Eastern and North African countries is creating ever greater challenges for millions of families already struggling to keep hunger at bay, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday.

Traditionally a month of festivities, when families gather over traditional foods to break their day-long fast, this year millions will be struggling to buy even the most basic foods for their families as the war in Ukraine has pushed food prices even higher than the troubling levels at the start of the year.

“We are extremely concerned about the millions of people in this region who are already struggling to access enough food because of a toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the economic aftermath of COVID-19,” said Corinne Fleischer, U.N. World Food Programme regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “People’s resilience is at a breaking point. This crisis is creating shockwaves in the food markets that touch every home in this region. No one is spared.”

The knock-on effect of the Ukraine crisis is adding further strain to the import-dependent region. The prices of wheat flour and vegetable oil – two key staples in the diet of most families – have consequently risen across the region. Cooking oil is up 36% in Yemen and 39% in Syria. Wheat flour is up 47% in Lebanon, 15% in Libya and 14% in Palestine.

Even prior to the conflict in Ukraine, inflation and increasing prices were putting basic food items beyond the reach of the most vulnerable. Food prices reached an all-time high in February 2022, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index.

The cost of a basic food basket – the minimum food needs per family per month – registered an annual increase of 351% in Lebanon, the highest in the region. It was followed by Syria, with a 97% rise, and Yemen with 81% hike. The three countries, all reliant on food imports, also reported sharp currency depreciation. Meanwhile, a drought in Syria has impacted the country’s annual wheat production.

With global prices rising, the U.N. World Food Programme’s meagre resources for operations in the region, especially in Yemen and Syria, will be under even more pressure than before. In both countries, conflict and the related economic shrinkage have left more than 29 million people in need of food assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting nearly 19 million people in the two countries.

The global food price hikes and the Ukraine conflict have resulted in the U.N. World Food Programme facing an additional cost of $71 million per month for global operations compared to 2019 – a 50% rise.

“The Ukraine crisis makes a bad funding situation worse. There are immediate humanitarian needs that demand attention. Donors have in recent years helped us provide food to millions in the region. Now the situation is critical and it’s time to be even more generous,” added Fleischer.

The U.N. World Food Programme currently has only 24% of the funding it needs in Syria and 31% of what it needs in Yemen. Due to funding constraints, the U.N. World Food Programme has already been forced to reduce food rations in both countries. Further reductions risk pushing people towards starvation.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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LVIV – One month into the conflict in Ukraine, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency food assistance to 1 million people in the country and has built systems able to deliver food at scale to communities in need. Trucks, trains and mini vans are today delivering food supplies to the most vulnerable people across the country and more convoys are expected in coming days.

Following a massive scale-up of operations, the U.N. World Food Programme has provided 330,000 loaves of freshly baked bread to families in the city of Kharkiv, cash assistance to displaced people in Lviv and ready-to-eat food in various parts of the country. U.N. World Food Programme emergency food supplies have also made it to the conflict areas of Sumy and Kharkiv through two interagency humanitarian convoys. These achievements come despite a volatile security situation, difficulties finding partners on the ground and the challenges of serving a population on the move.

“Just one month ago, we had no presence on the ground, no staff, no network of suppliers or partners. To build an operation from the ground up and get food to 1 million people seemed a monumental challenge,” said Jakob Kern, the U.N. World Food Programme’s emergency coordinator for Ukraine. “Now that the structures are in place, we need the funding to keep delivering assistance, and to help 3 million people in need.”

Over 6.5 million people are displaced inside Ukraine and the pre-conflict supply chain systems for feeding the country’s population have broken down. According to the preliminary findings of a remote assessment by the U.N. World Food Programme, food is among the top three concerns for people inside Ukraine, along with safety and fuel for transportation.

The U.N. World Food Programme estimates that 45% of the population are worried about finding enough to eat. In a country which used to grow food for 400 million people around the world, one person in five now reports having to reduce the size and number of their meals while adults skip meals so their children can eat. Close to 4 million people – mainly women and children – have fled the conflict and become refugees in neighboring countries.

“We’re talking about a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe,” U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley told the United Nations Security Council in a briefing on Tuesday. “We would have never dreamed anything like this would be possible. And it’s not just decimating Ukraine and the region. It will have a global impact beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II.”

The conflict in Ukraine is triggering a wave of collateral hunger elsewhere in the world. Global food prices have increased sharply since the onset of the conflict – reaching an all-time high in February 2022. These hikes will affect local food prices and further limit access to food for millions of people who are already under stress because of food inflation in their countries.

“The consequences of the conflict are radiating outwards,” said U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director Corinne Fleischer. “Higher prices mean more people around the world will fall into hunger. At the same time, we at the U.N. World Food Programme also have to pay more for the food we buy, so our operations to help those people also take a hit. We need the world to step up at this critical time.”

The U.N. World Food Programme requires $590 million to assist 3.1 million crisis-affected people and IDPs on the move inside Ukraine with in-kind and cash distributions, as well as refugees and asylum seekers from Ukraine in neighboring countries for the next three months.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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The War in Ukraine Is Triggering a Wave of Collateral Hunger Across the Globe as Food and Fuel Prices Surge

RZESZOW, Poland – As the emergency operation in Ukraine moved into high gear today, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) expressed deep concern about the waning ability of families in embattled areas to find food and also warned that the crisis could have consequences well beyond Ukraine’s borders.

“In a year when the world is already facing an unprecedented level of hunger, it’s just tragic to see hunger raising its head in what has long been the breadbasket of Europe,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley during a visit to a staging hub set up by the organization on the Polish-Ukrainian border. “The bullets and bombs in Ukraine could take the global hunger crisis to levels beyond anything we’ve seen before.”

With reports coming in of severe shortages of food and water in Kyiv, the capital, and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, U.N. World Food Programme teams are setting up operations and hubs in countries neighboring Ukraine. These will both facilitate delivery of food assistance into the country and assist refugees coming over the borders.

The immediate priority is to establish a food lifeline into Kyiv and other conflict hotspots. With consignments of food assistance arriving every day, the U.N. World Food Programme is in a race against time to pre-position food in areas where fighting is expected to flare. The U.N. World Food Programme is in the process of finding partners in Ukraine to help it distribute assistance and teams in neighbouring countries are identifying local vendors in order to purchase more stock.

Amid a shortage of cash in Ukraine, the U.N. World Food Programme plans to provide assistance through food distributions, cash and food vouchers that can be spent in selected shops. Food distributions will prioritize the big towns on the Ukraine side of the border where families are gathering as they wait to see how the conflict develops. The U.N. World Food Programme also plans to assist refugees who crossed the border to neighbouring countries.

The Russian Federation and Ukraine are responsible for 29% of the global wheat trade. Any serious disruption of production and exports from the region could push food prices beyond their current 10-year highs. This will erode food security for millions of people, especially those who are already under stress because of high levels of food inflation in their countries.

“This is not just a crisis inside Ukraine. This is going to affect supply chains, and particularly the cost of food,” Beasley warned. “Now we’re looking at a price hike that will cost us, in operational costs, anywhere from $60 and $75 million dollars more per month. And that means more people are going to go to bed hungry.”

At the start of 2022, the world is facing an unprecedented hunger challenge, as conflict and climate shocks compounded by COVID-19 and rising costs drive millions of people closer to starvation — threatening to increase migration and instability globally. With the numbers of hungry rising, the U.N. World Food Programme is calling for a step-change in global support for its operations.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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The conflict unfolding in Ukraine is heartbreaking to watch, and our hearts and prayers go out to all Ukrainians caught in this crisis. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching an emergency operation to provide food assistance for civilians fleeing the conflict and is currently calling for $570M for its portion of the emergency response.

The U.N. World Food Programme is scaling up to reach millions of people affected by the conflict using cash-based transfers as well as in-kind food distributions and is also preparing for an emergency operation to provide assistance to displaced Ukrainians in refugee hosting countries. In addition, the agency is leading the emergency telecommunications and logistics effort on behalf of the United Nations.

The U.N. World Food Programme has prior experience working in Ukraine. From November 2014 until April 2018, WFP’s operations assisted more than one million people through cash, food vouchers or locally purchased food rations, operating in both government- and non-government-controlled areas.

Conflict is the main driver of hunger and food insecurity in the world. We are deeply concerned about the potential impact on access to food for civilians in affected areas and on our operations globally.

We stand committed to the people of Ukraine and will do everything we can to help, but we can’t do it without the generous support of donors. World Food Program USA has set a fundraising goal of $5M to support emergency operations in Ukraine. Please donate now so we can rush emergency food to Ukrainians in their time of desperate need.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

World Food Program USA, a 501 (c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit wfpusa.org/mission-history.

Media Contact:
Toula Athas
Director, Communications
tathas@wfpusa.org
202-627-3940

SANA’A – Yemen is spiraling into a catastrophe as humanitarian funding dries up, forcing the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to scale back food assistance to millions of hungry families, U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley warned last week as he ended a two-day visit to the conflict-ravaged country.

“We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving and, unless we receive immediate funding, in a few weeks we risk not even being able to feed the starving. This will be hell on earth,” Beasley said.

The escalation of conflict in Ukraine is likely to further increase fuel and food prices and especially grains in the import-dependent country. Food prices have more than doubled across much of Yemen over the past year, leaving more than half of the country in need of food assistance. Higher food prices will push more people into the vicious circle of hunger and dependence on humanitarian assistance.

The U.N. World Food Programme provides food assistance to 13 million people every month in Yemen, but was forced to halve food rations for 8 million people at the beginning of the year due to a shortage of funding. 5 million people who are at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions have continued to receive a full food ration.

But without an immediate influx of cash, more severe reductions will be unavoidable and millions of hungry people may not receive food at all. For Yemenis, the timing could not be worse. As families try to put food on the table, they are being hampered by the knock-on effects of a serious escalation in fighting alongside the continuing deterioration of the economy.

Beasley met with government officials and spent time with families in hospitals and food distribution centers in Aden, Sana’a and Amran governorates. These governorates have alarming levels of food insecurity, with Amran even showing pockets of famine in the 2020 food security assessments.

The U.N. World Food Programme chief heard first-hand about the impact of cuts in assistance on families’ lives. He spoke to a mother caring for her severely malnourished child in an Amran hospital. She said she was displaced from Hajjah on the frontlines and could have stayed in her home had she received food for her children. Instead, she sold her furniture and sheep and took her children in search of food and safety.

“It has been less than a year since I was in Yemen and it is worse than anyone can possibly imagine. Yemen has come full circle since 2018 when we had to fight our way back from the brink of famine but the risk today is more real than ever,” said Beasley. “And just when you think it can’t get any worse, the world wakes up to a conflict in Ukraine that is likely to cause economic deterioration around the world especially for countries like Yemen, dependent on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. Prices will go up compounding an already terrible situation.”

The U.N. World Food Programme needs $800 million in the next six months to provide full assistance to the 13 million people it has been assisting until now.

Last year, the U.N. World Food Programme delivered more than 1 million tons of food and over $330 million in cash and voucher assistance to families across Yemen.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @WFPYemen and @WFP_MENA

ROME – We are deeply concerned about the evolving conflict in Ukraine and its potential impact on access to food for civilians in affected areas and on our operations globally. Our thoughts are with all those who have been caught up in this crisis and we echo the United Nations Secretary General’s call for an immediate ceasefire.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) team is on the ground, and we are ready to step up as needed provided that access is granted, and resources are available. We appeal to all parties to ensure that affected communities have continued access to any humanitarian support they may require and that the safety of humanitarian staff on the ground is guaranteed.

Conflict is a main driver of hunger and food insecurity in the world. We now have 283 million people marching towards starvation with 45 million knocking on famine’s door. The world cannot afford to let another conflict drive the numbers of hungry people even higher.

The Black Sea basin is one of the world’s most important areas for grain and agricultural production, and the food security impact of the conflict will likely be felt beyond Ukraine’s border, especially on the poorest of the poor. Interruption to the flow of grain out of the Black Sea region will increase prices and add further fuel to food inflation at a time when its affordability is a concern across the globe following the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.N. World Food Programme operated in eastern Ukraine from 2014 to 2018, reaching more than 1 million people through cash, food vouchers or locally purchased food rations, while operating in both government- and non-government-controlled areas. We remain committed to support all affected populations in Ukraine and in neighboring countries as required.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA

ANTANANARIVO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), along with the Government of Madagascar is providing food, logistics, IT assistance and an airlink to support relief operations in the districts of Mananjary and Manakara badly affected by Cyclone Batsirai that made landfall on February 5.

Before the storm hit, the U.N. World Food Programme had already started providing hot meals to evacuees in shelters in Manakara. Food prepositioned by the U.N. World Food Programme in Manakara and Tamatave, ahead of the cyclone, has started reaching affected communities, with additional stocks making their way to the areas worst hit. The U.N. World Food Programme is also supporting assessments to ascertain the full impact of the cyclone.

“The U.N. World Food Programme is working round the clock to ensure food and essentials reach those whose lives have been turned upside down by the cyclone. Our logistics and IT support to humanitarian partners is ensuring a timely and efficient response to the disaster,” said Pasqualina Disirio, the U.N. World Food Programme’s country director in Madagascar. “We are seeing severe damage including destruction of the rice crop that was just weeks away from harvest. Cash crops like cloves, coffee and pepper have also been affected in a region where the majority of people make a living from agriculture.”

  • The U.N. World Food Programme has distributed 10,000 hot meals in cyclone shelters in Manakara, since February 3, 2022.
  • Some 8.7 metric tons (MT) of prepositioned food has been distributed to displaced people in Manakara and 3.4 MT has been distributed in Vohipeno, while another 5.2 MT will be distributed over the coming days.
  • In addition, around 160 MT of food is being transported to Mananjary.
  • Cash distributions for nearly 1,400 households are ongoing in Farafangana.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting the government in its rapid assessment including an aerial survey. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is conducting special flights in coordination with OCHA to assess the impact of the cyclone. UNHAS continues the air bridge between Antananarivo and Mananjary and other areas to support the response.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme will also provide road transport to partners between Manakara and Mananjary to enable relief efforts. The U.N. World Food Programme has already provided logistic support for relief goods such as tents, wooden pallets and tarpaulins.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme has deployed staff to assess IT needs of the entire humanitarian community in the areas worst affected. In preparation for the cyclone, the U.N. World Food Programme provided government authorities with IT equipment (smartphones and power banks), a vehicle as well as access to MoDA (U.N. World Food Programme’s data collection platform) in order to fast-track the registration and management of displaced people eligible for aid.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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Nairobi – The Horn of Africa is experiencing the driest conditions recorded since 1981, with severe drought leaving an estimated 13 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing severe hunger in the first quarter of this year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

Three consecutive failed rainy seasons have decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths. Shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and leading to increased conflict between communities. Further forecasts of below-average rainfall are threatening to worsen and compound dire conditions in the coming months.

“Harvests are ruined, livestock are dying and hunger is growing as recurrent droughts affect the Horn of Africa,” said Michael Dunford, regional director in the U.N. World Food Programme Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa. “The situation requires immediate humanitarian action and consistent support to build the resilience of communities for the future.”

The drought has impacted pastoral and farmer populations across southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, south-eastern and northern Kenya and south-central Somalia. The impacts are compounded by increases in staple food prices, inflation and low demand for agricultural labour, further worsening families’ ability to buy food. Malnutrition rates also remain high across the region and could worsen if no immediate action is taken.

Across the three drought-affected countries, the U.N. World Food Programme is providing lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to affected communities. Additionally, U.N. World Food Programme cash grants and insurance schemes are helping families buy food to keep their livestock alive or compensating them for their losses.

As needs across the Horn of Africa grow, immediate assistance is critical to avoid a major humanitarian crisis, like the one the world witnessed in 2011 when 250,000 people died of hunger in Somalia. This week the U.N. World Food Programme launches its Regional Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa, calling for $327 million to respond to immediate needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months and help communities become more resilient to extreme climate shocks.

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Note to Editors:

“With the drought, the livestock we have are in danger. Our livelihood depends on them, so we are doing everything we can to keep them healthy. Every morning we lead our cattle to graze at a pasture far away, but even that area is drying up,” said Elamu, a mother of seven in Ethiopia who is impacted by drought.

The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting Elamu with cash transfers through the anticipatory action initiative. After providing Elamu and others crucial information about the upcoming drought, the U.N. World Food Programme provided Elamu $42 each month to help her ready her livestock for the impacts from drought. Elamu is one of almost 3,000 pastoralist households who are receiving cash transfers and one of 16,000 receiving early warning messages from the U.N. World Food Programme to help manage the drought in Ethiopia’s Somali Region.

In Ethiopia, an estimated 5.7 million people affected by severe drought need food assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme aims to support 2.9 million people with food relief in the Somali Region, 585,000 malnourished children and mothers with nutrition treatment, and 80,000 households with mothers or young children with preventative treatment against malnutrition. This emergency response will be complemented by expanding microinsurance support for up to 18,000 at-risk pastoralists. The U.N. World Food Programme is also seeking to add 50,000 children to its school meals program, which currently reaches 87,000 children across 254 schools in other drought affected regions of Oromia and SNNP.

In Kenya, the government declared the drought a national emergency in September 2021 and an estimated 2.8 million people are in need of assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme aims to provide urgent food assistance to more than 890,000 people in the worst affected counties as well as scale up malnutrition treatment and prevention programs for women and children. The U.N. World Food Programme will also extend microinsurance support for small-scale farmers.

In Somalia, the number of acutely food insecure people (IPC 3+) is expected to increase from 3.5 to 4.6 million between February-May 2022 if humanitarian assistance is not received. The U.N. World Food Programme is aiming to scale up its food assistance to support an additional 600,000 people in the first half of this year, reaching a total of almost 2.5 million. To help prevent and treat the implications of drought, the U.N. World Food Programme will also provide nutrition support to women and children. The U.N. World Food Programme is also continuing livelihoods, resilience and food systems programs to protect recent development gains and strengthen vulnerable Somalis against droughts and other crises in the long term.

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