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US announces $215M in emergency funding to address global food crisis

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May 19, 2022 - 09:57 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – The US is providing an additional $215 million in emergency assistance to help the international community weather a food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

“Countries with significant grain and fertilizer reserves, as well as those with financial resources need to step up and do it fast,” Blinken said at the United Nations. “Today, given the urgency of the crisis, we’re announcing another $215 million in emergency food assistance, and we’ll do much more.”

The funding comes on top of some $2.3 billion announced by the US to address the global food crisis since Russia began its war in late February.

The conflict has destabilized one of the world’s most important sources of grain with Ukraine’s agricultural fields largely left untended this year as farmers, like much of the country, seek safety from the widespread violence.

The crops are traditionally one of Ukraine’s most important exports, but the war has prevented millions of tons of grain from leaving the country.

Blinken called on the international community to pressure Moscow, which has occupied much of Ukraine’s Black Sea and Sea of Azov coastlines, to create humanitarian corridors to allow grain and other vital exports to leave the country.

There are some 22 million tons of grain “sitting in silos in Ukraine right now,” the top diplomat said, describing it as “food that could immediately go toward helping those in need if it can simply get out of the country.”

The US is also committing $500 million to boost US production of fertilizer amid a global shortage, and Blinken encouraged other countries to follow suit.

There are some 276 million people worldwide who are severely food insecure, double the number from two years prior, according to UN estimates. Over half a million people are living in famine-like conditions.

“These frightening figures are inextricably linked with conflict, as both cause, and effect,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “If we do not feed people, we feed conflict.”

The UN Security Council is slated to take up the matter on Friday.

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