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Ukraine: UN Expert Warns Of Global Famine, Urges End To Russia Aggression

GENEVA (18 March 2022) - The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, said Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused profound rates of hunger in the country, and raises the risk of higher rates of hunger in Russia, and may cause a global surge in malnutrition and famine. He issues the following statement:

“For the last three years, global rates of hunger and famine have been on the rise. With the Russian invasion, we are now facing the risk of imminent famine and starvation in more places around the world. The military attacks against Ukraine must be stopped immediately before there are profound global, long-term consequences to everyone’s food security.

Ukraine and Russia are two of the top five grain exporters in the world. By some estimates, what is at stake is global food security since the global agricultural trade involved is worth nearly $1.8 trillion. The immediate food related effects of the conflict are being felt in Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iran who buy more than 60 percent of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and all of them have outstanding food imports. Lebanon, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, and Pakistan also rely heavily on the two countries for their wheat supply. With the planting season starting soon in Ukraine and Russia, I am concerned about long-term disruptions.

I’m also worried about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine will hurt people in Russia. Many countries have imposed targeted economic sanctions against Russia and many businesses are voluntarily divesting from or boycotting Russia. As economic sanctions against Russia are expanding beyond individuals and institutions and are becoming more general, my concern is that the most vulnerable people in Russia may bear a disproportionate burden. The effectiveness of sanctions should always be measured against the potential violation of people’s human rights and humanitarian consequences.

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Equal thought and effort should be directed towards envisaging and facilitating the recovery process in Ukraine. Even with war raging, the international community should give special attention to support family-run farms and small-scale farmers in Ukraine. Family-run farms and small-scale farmers are proving to be the most adaptable and resilient in times of crisis. Ukraine’s recovery will depend on family and small-scale farmers.

Hunger, famine and malnutrition are always the result of political failures. As with any military invasion, all countries must work in solidarity to address the urgent nutritional needs of all vulnerable people especially refugees, older persons, people with disabilities, and children. Food should never be weaponized and no country in the world should be driven into famine and desperation.”


Mr. Michael FAKHRI is the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food He was appointed Special Rapporteur d by the Human Rights Council in March 2020 and assumed his functions on 1 May 2020. Mr. Fakhri is a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law where he teaches courses on human rights, food law, development, and commercial law. He is also the director of the Food Resiliency Project in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center.

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