World + 7 more

Preventing Conflict Most Effective Way to Prevent Famine, Senior Officials Stress, Warning Security Council Millions of People ‘Are Marching towards Starvation’

SC/15032
15 SEPTEMBER 2022

9133RD MEETING (PM)

Dire food insecurity in many conflict-affected countries requires both urgent action from the Security Council to prevent and end the violence and increased humanitarian funding from the international community in order to avert catastrophic famine for millions of people, senior United Nations officials told the 15-member organ today.

Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, recalled that the Council asked to be informed when the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity occurs. “That risk is now upon us,” he reported. Widespread suffering was a result of the direct and indirect impacts of conflict and violence — along with the behaviour of the fighting parties. In the most extreme cases, such actors deliberately cut off access to the commercial supplies and essential services on which civilians rely to survive. “Hunger is used as a tactic of war,” he stressed.

Providing a brief overview of the bleak situations in Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia and north-east Nigeria — where a total of approximately 43 million people face high levels of food insecurity — he offered several suggested actions for Member States to take. These include pursuing peaceful, negotiated resolutions to conflict and supporting the economies of countries facing severe, large-scale hunger, among others. Further, these countries receive little — if any — funding for climate adaptation and mitigation. He called on Member States to ensure this funding reaches the most vulnerable places as a matter of priority. “Time is not on our side,” he stressed.

Máximo Torero, Chief Economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), underscored that conflict impacts every aspect of agrifood systems, reducing food production, destroying crops, disrupting markets and restricting access to food. In the long term, it leads to complete loss of livelihoods, mass displacements and decreased resilience, among others. Detailing the dire food security situations in Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, northern Nigeria and Yemen, he pointed out that: “When the Council speaks, the world listens.” Preventing conflict is the most effective means of preventing famine. “It is essential that we act now to minimize the calamities,” he stressed.

David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that up to 345 million people are “marching towards starvation” in the 82 countries where the WFP currently operates, and of those, 50 million people living in 45 countries are “knocking on famine’s door”. Echoing previous assessments of the bleak situations in Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, he urged the Council to “show the leadership the world needs right now” and help facilitate political solutions to end these wars. Recalling his April 2020 warning that the world was facing “famines of biblical proportions”, he stressed that “we are on the edge once again”. “The hungry people of the world are counting on us,” he added, “and we must not let them down.”

In the ensuing discussion, many Council members expressed concern over food insecurity in Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, calling for peaceful solutions to armed conflict and welcoming the Black Sea Grain Initiative’s impact on lowering global food prices, while others stressed that Russian fertilizer must also be able to reach global markets. Some also stressed the need to take a more long-term approach, urging efforts to address underlying causes of food insecurity and build resilience in vulnerable countries.

On that point, the representative of Brazil, who, along with Ireland, requested this meeting, stressed the need to break the perverse cycle formed by conflict and food insecurity that traps people in a spiral of degrading living conditions. Efforts were needed to eradicate historical trade-distortive practices. While donor countries must ensure that no humanitarian agency needs to choose between the hungry and the starving, he also urged all Member States to increase their efforts in providing technical capacity and technology.

Ireland’s representative, also pointing out that United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations are being forced to take food from the hungry to feed the starving, stressed that this is a “damning indictment of the state of food insecurity globally, and of this Council’s response to conflict-induced hunger”. Humanitarian assistance is essential, but it is not the answer to this scourge, he stressed. Rather, the solution is peace, which means putting pressure on the parties to conflict to come to the table.

The representative of Kenya said, however, that, while food insecurity may be most acute in conflict-affected countries, it is a broader phenomenon. He therefore urged relevant States, regional bodies and United Nations entities to refocus on Sustainable Development Goal 2 on zero hunger. Further, there is sufficient evidence that the climate crisis aggravates conflict. The Council needs to heed the call by countries in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa to link climate action with the peacekeeping and political missions of the United Nations.

Similarly, the representative of the United Arab Emirates called on the international community to help combat climate change by prioritizing investments in early warning systems, anticipatory action and agricultural resilience. Recalling that her country has consistently advocated for taking more unconventional drivers of conflict into account, she said the Council would be better able to take preventative action to address worsening security and humanitarian situations if it received regular updates on risk factors in fragile settings.

Also addressing the Council was Italy’s representative, who stressed that the international community must maintain open food chains and transition towards sustainable, climate-smart and resilient food systems. “Rural people and local actors must be put back at the centre of these processes,” he stressed.

Also speaking were the representatives of China, Mexico, Norway, India, Russian Federation, Gabon, Albania, United States, Ghana, United Kingdom and France.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:16 p.m.

Briefings

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, recalling that the Council asked to be informed when the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity occurs, stressed: “That risk is now upon us.” He spotlighted four contexts where this risk is clear: Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. As well, there are alarming levels of food insecurity in Afghanistan and Somalia. This widespread suffering results from the direct and indirect impacts of conflict and violence, along with the behaviour of the fighting parties. A similar pattern recurs in each context: civilians are killed and injured; families are forcibly displaced from their land; explosive remnants of war disrupt people’s access to markets, agricultural production and income‑generation; civilian infrastructure is stolen, damaged or destroyed; food stocks are looted; and economic decline and rising prices put sufficient food out of reach for the most vulnerable. In the most extreme cases, fighting parties deliberately cut off access to the commercial supplies and essential services on which civilians rely to survive. “Hunger is used as a tactic of war,” he stressed.

While humanitarian organizations have extended relief lifelines to people in these crises, he pointed out that they often face interference, impediments, harassment and attacks on their staff and looting or diversion of their assets. “Humanitarians will stay and deliver,” he said, “but the conditions in some contexts are unacceptable.” Highlighting other drivers of hunger — including climate change and rising prices for food, fertilizer and energy resulting from the war in Ukraine — he also gave a brief overview of the situations in the four countries. In Yemen, some 19 million people — 6 out of 10 — are acutely food insecure, and the situation may worsen due to funding gaps for the humanitarian response and ongoing economic instability. Further, a lack of funding threatens the operations of the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen — which inspects all imports, including food, to Yemen’s Red Sea ports — and he expressed hope that this will be addressed to avoid a shutdown of the Mechanism on 1 October.

Turning to South Sudan, he noted that 63 per cent of the population — around 7 million people — were projected to be acutely food insecure this year, also pointing out that the country was one of the most dangerous places in which to be an aid worker last year. In Ethiopia, more than 13 million people need life‑saving food assistance, and while there were some improvements in the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the northern part of the country, the recent resumption of hostilities is undoing that progress. In north-east Nigeria, a projected 4.1 million people are facing high levels of acute food insecurity.

Against that backdrop, he suggested that Member States take the following actions: pursue peaceful, negotiated resolutions to conflict; encourage States and armed groups to abide by their obligations under international law, including ensuring the rapid, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief; address the underlying drivers of acute food insecurity and support the economies of countries facing severe, large-scale hunger; and sustain humanitarian financing for these crises. Adding that these countries receive little — if any — funding for climate adaptation and mitigation, he called on Member States to ensure this funding — as grants, not loans — reaches the most vulnerable places as a matter of priority. “Time is not on our side,” he stressed.

MÁXIMO TORERO, Chief Economist of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said conflicts impact on every dimension of agrifood systems: reducing food production, destroying crops, disrupting markets and restricting access to food. In the long-term, they lead to complete loss of livelihoods, supply‑chain disruptions, mass displacements, increased pressure on limited resources, and decreased resilience. The “Mid Year Update of the Global Report on Food Crises” published on Monday forecasts that through the end of this year, 205 million people will face the three highest phases of acute food insecurity — “IPC/CH Phase 3” [Integrated Food Security Phase‑Crisis or Worse] and will be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Moreover, a record-breaking 970,000 people are expected to face “IPC Phase 5” [Integrated Food Security Phase-Catastrophe/Famine] across five countries without urgent humanitarian assistance. The war in Ukraine is having direct and indirect impacts on these countries, and these are likely to worsen in the second half of 2022 and early 2023, he added.

In Somalia, the IPC [Integrated Food Security Phase] Famine Review Committee concluded that agropastoral populations in two districts and displaced populations in Baidoa town of Bay Region will face famine between October and December without significant humanitarian assistance, he noted. In addition, agropastoralists in several areas of central and southern Somalia will face an increased risk of famine through at least December. In total, 300 000 people are expected to be in IPC Phase 5 conditions between October and December. In Afghanistan, the humanitarian situation remains highly fragile, with some 19 million people projected to face high acute food security. Spiralling food, fuel, fertilizer and transportation costs stemming from the Ukraine war only compound an already brutal situation. Approximately 80 per cent of livelihoods in that country is largely agricultural. The sector has proved the most resilient and offers enormous potential to expand food production, boost rural economies and drive economic recovery from the village level.

There is no updated food security data for Ethiopia, but it is likely that the situation has worsened considerably in 2022, he continued. Alongside the drought affecting southern areas, the resumption of hostilities in Tigray directly threatens the Meher harvest in October. In South Sudan, heightened and increasingly politicized intercommunal violence has been affecting the country since 2020. About 7.74 million people — almost two thirds of the total population — are estimated to face IPC Phase 3 or worse during the lean season. In northern Nigeria, the security situation continues to deteriorate, owing to escalating hostilities between non-State armed groups, criminality and intercommunal violence. About 4.14 million people are estimated to face acute food insecurity in the north-eastern States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, with many in areas inaccessible to humanitarian assistance.

In Yemen, the outlook on food insecurity is expected to be better than projected, he noted, adding that the assumed ripple effects of the war in Ukraine on the international markets have not manifested. Funding for food assistance slightly improved and major cuts in the number of beneficiaries were prevented. Although the conflict in Yemen has eased considerably after parties agreed on a truce from April, movement restrictions continue to constrain humanitarian access. “When the Council speaks, the world listens,” he pointed out. Preventing conflict is the most effective means of preventing famine and arresting violence and insecurity not only save lives immediately, but opens the opportunity for immediate assistance, resilience building, lasting development and ultimately locally owned pathways to peace and stability. “It is essential that we act now to minimize the calamities,” he stressed.

DAVID BEASLEY, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that, while “today, we’re here to raise the alarm about the severe hunger crises in Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen”, a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude threatens mass starvation and famine. In addition to the “perfect storm” of rising conflict, the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change that existed at the beginning of 2022, he pointed out that soaring food, fuel and fertilizer costs resulting from the conflict in Ukraine have driven another 70 million people closer to starvation. “What was a wave of hunger is now a tsunami of hunger,” he stressed. In the 82 countries where the WFP currently operates, up to 345 million people are acutely food insecure — “marching towards starvation” — and of those, 50 million people living in 45 countries are “knocking on famine’s door”, he said. Despite the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ongoing efforts to get Russian fertilizer to global markets, the current food crisis threatens to develop into a food supply crisis.

Resumed fighting in northern Ethiopia threatens to push many hungry, exhausted families over the edge, he reported. WFP’s latest assessment shows that 5.2 million people in Tigray — 89per cent of the population — are food insecure; WFP is working day and night to help those most in need. However, WFP needs fuel, funding and full movement of supplies across the lines of control to get help where it is needed most. In north-east Nigeria, “a toxic mix” of escalating violence, displacement, damaged livelihoods and soaring food prices are fuelling a growing food insecurity crisis affecting an estimated 4.1 million people, 500,000 of which are located in inaccessible areas. While WFP is attempting to reach 2.1 million people in north-east Nigeria in 2022, 1 million people may not receive the food assistance they need as the gap between needs and resources grows wider. Meanwhile, rising conflict, combined with floods in 7 of the 10 states in South Sudan “fuel a food security disaster that is fast becoming a catastrophe”, he said.

Also highlighting the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, he pointed out that the Ukraine conflict is stoking inflation in Yemen due to its almost total reliance on food imports. While WFP aims to feed 18 million people in Yemen in 2022, its cost of doing business in Yemen has risen by 30 per cent in 2022, from $1.97 billion to $2.6 billion. Further, the cost of its operations has increased globally by $800 million. As a result, the WFP has had to cut the assistance it provides and, beginning in September, 13 million people in Yemen are getting two-thirds rations. Urging the Council to “show the leadership the world needs right now”, he noted that some Council members have provided generous funding for emergency food assistance and called on others to do the same. Further, he underscored that political solutions to end these wars are urgently needed, as is access to reach all those in need. The Council’s help is needed on both. Recalling his April 2020 warning that the world was facing “famines of biblical proportions” and the attendant increase in funding that averted catastrophe, he stressed that “we are on the edge once again”. “The hungry people of the world are counting on us,” he added, “and we must not let them down.”

Statements

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) underscored that conflicts and food insecurity form a perverse cycle that traps populations and countries in a spiral of degrading living conditions. “We need to break this cycle — and to do that, we need concrete action in the three pillars of the United Nations,” he stressed. Donor countries and all those in a position must “step up” so that no humanitarian agency needs to choose between the hungry and the starving. Building a truly open and fair multilateral trading system for the agrifood sector and eradicating historical price and trade-distortive practices and subsidies are also important steps to support livelihoods, including for populations affected by conflict. Further, actions to generate or rebuild productive capacities, such as the delivery of seeds and the improvement of crop production, among others promoted by FAO in Ethiopia, are essential to prevent producers and consumers from falling into internal displacement and severe food insecurity.

His country has a vast expertise in producing more with less input and maximizing agricultural yields even in unfavourable conditions, along with a large experience in South-South cooperation and long-standing partnerships with WFP and FAO, he continued. It stands ready to support that agenda, he said, calling on all Member States to increase their efforts in providing not only humanitarian assistance, but also technical capacity and technology transfer. As many of those measures are not under the Council's purview, he said the Peacebuilding Commission is uniquely positioned, by bridging peace and security efforts and development solutions, as well as by mobilizing international support, in cooperation with the Rome-based agencies and the whole United Nations system. “Filling the humanitarian funding gap or sustaining agricultural production won’t be successful if conflicts keep roads blocked and people unable to work the land,” he stressed, adding that the Council has the framework through resolution 2417 (2018).

FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland) pointed out that United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations are forced to take food from the hungry to feed the starving. “This is a damning indictment of the state of food insecurity globally, and of this Council’s response to conflict‑induced hunger,” he said. Hunger is not only a consequence of conflict, but also used by some as a weapon of war. There can be no impunity for parties to armed conflict who target humanitarian actors and utilize starvation and denial of access to humanitarian assistance to civilians. Although essential, humanitarian assistance is not the answer to the scourge of conflict-induced hunger; the answer is peace. Preventing suffering before it is too late means having the courage to take action to protect civilians. It means putting pressure on the parties to conflict to come to the table, while ensuring the active participation of women and input of youth.

Addressing parties to the conflict in Yemen and Ethiopia, he said “stop fighting and return to the negotiations”. Turning to South Sudan, he said the road to peace and security in South Sudan must include accountability for the serious violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights, perpetrated by parties to the conflict. Regarding north-east Nigeria, he said an end to the persistent conflict will enable much needed, and shamefully blocked, life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection. It will also shut off the drivers of forced child recruitment and the abhorrent attacks on and persecution of humanitarian workers. “The answer to the violence, violations, and suffering heard about today lies in peace and security — the essence of our collective mandate. Our political will must match the need if we are to break this deadly cycle and reverse escalating conflict induced hunger,” he said.

DAI BING (China) said that food security is both the key element for realizing lasting peace and security, as well as a long-standing challenge facing the international community. The Security Council should stay calm and pragmatic, focusing both on the present to resolve urgent matters, and in the long term to achieve the goal of eradicating hunger. As long as conflicts and wars are not resolved completely, the local populations will continue to suffer from hunger. Therefore, the international community must vigorously promote the political settlement of “hot-spot” issues. Underlining the importance of ensuring stable supply chains, he stressed that there is enough food in the world for everyone; the issue is about distribution. Major food exporters and countries with grain companies should join efforts to curb acts of artificially inflating food prices. Concerning the countries detailed by the Under-Secretary-General in his briefing, “the assistance to regions and countries in conflicts can only go up, not down”, he said. Developed countries should fulfil the commitment of spending 0.7 per cent of their national income on official development assistance (ODA), he emphasized.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) emphasized that conflict parties must engage constructively to forge frameworks for ongoing cooperation on issues such as humanitarian access, security challenges and food distribution. Further, more must be done to alleviate the impacts from the global food crisis, adding that her country, which imports most of its foodstuffs, understands the vulnerabilities that food importers are exposed to. In that regard, Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs must reach those most in need, and not just those able to pay. As well, Russian fertilizers must be able to reach global markets to help ensure that future agricultural production is not further imperilled. The international community must help combat climate change by prioritizing investments in early warning systems, anticipatory action and agricultural resilience. It must also increase the risk appetite of international financial institutions. Her country has been consistently advocating for taking more unconventional drivers of conflict systematically into account, for instance by receiving regular updates on risk factors in fragile settings, she said, noting that this would help preventative action by the Council to address the worsening security and humanitarian situations of concern.

JUAN MANUEL GÓMEZ ROBLEDO (Mexico) underscored that the current challenges of food security are “without precedent in our contemporary history”. While thanking the Secretary-General and Ukraine for their efforts to reach an agreement allowing for the export of grain from the country, he noted that, unfortunately, the Initiative has not led to a reduction of starvation conditions in many parts of the world. “It is equally important for Russian fertilizers and food products to reach global markets,” he emphasized. Ending hunger and malnutrition, addressing humanitarian crises and preventing and resolving conflicts are not separate tasks. It is essential to address structural causes leading to food insecurity and starvation. He detailed several initial steps that the international community could take, including working towards peaceful solutions for armed conflicts and violence; increasing local production; reducing food waste; and ensuring affordability of fertilizers. “It is unacceptable that in a world of great material abundance, millions of people are facing food insecurity or they are in a situation of starvation because of our collective indifference,” he said.

MONA JUUL (Norway), expressing concern over the situation of food insecurity in Ethiopia, north-east Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, emphasized that the Security Council has a preventive role to play in line with resolution 2417 (2018) through breaking the cycle of armed conflict and hunger, and by stepping up efforts to avert conflicts in the first place. Further, the Council must speak against violations of international humanitarian law and for accountability — including for the obstruction of humanitarian assistance and the use of starvation as a method of warfare. Highlighting the gendered impact of conflict, she said that women must have an active role in the prevention of food insecurity and conflict, as well as in the design and implementation of peacebuilding efforts and humanitarian responses. The situation in Ukraine has had an impact on global food insecurity, she pointed out, commending the Secretary‑General for his efforts towards implementing the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Funding needs to be stepped-up, as well as investments in food production and resilience, to tackle the current global food crisis and to reduce future risks, she emphasized.

MADHU SUDAN RAVINDRAN (India) said that, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation in Ukraine, the adverse impact of the current food crisis has been disproportionately felt by the countries of the global South and is already derailing efforts towards ensuring food security and eradicating poverty. He thanked the efforts by the Secretary-General in establishing the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, opening the exports of grains from Ukraine via the Black Sea, and facilitating the exports of Russian food and fertilizers. While welcoming the recent decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to exempt purchases of food for humanitarian assistance from export restrictions, he said that the international community needs to go beyond and “unshackle the limitations on food exports”. Noting that armed conflict and terrorism combined with extreme weather, crop pests, food price volatility, exclusion and economic shocks can lead any fragile economy into food insecurity and increased threat of famine, he stressed that providing capacity-building support to countries facing these issues is critical.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that today’s subject of food security is “shamelessly being used for geopolitical manipulation”, as Western countries continue to blame the Russian Federation for the food crisis, even though they acknowledge that it preceded the “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Russian Federation did not block the export of Ukrainian grain through the humanitarian corridor established by the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and though international food prices have fallen, national food prices in countries of the global South have not decreased. Questioning why this is occurring, he said that the poorest States — those facing food crises — have received only 6 out of the 136 shipments of grain, or around 4 per cent. By contrast, States in the European Union have received 58 shipments, or around 42 per cent. Noting promises from such States that some of this grain will be re‑exported to those in need, he asked how this will be done. He went on to say that sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by the European Union and the United States are complicating banking transactions — including those systemically important to the agricultural sector — and raising the cost of shipping insurance. Further, Russian fertilizer is being blocked by European Union authorities. To get vital goods to market, he stressed the need to “implement the Russian part of the grain deal with real results”. A selective approach to the Initiative could prove harmful to it, he added.

ANNETTE ANDRÉE ONANGA (Gabon) said that now, more than ever, Member States must redouble their efforts to end conflicts wherever they erupt and work to reduce tensions. While strengthening such efforts to resolve conflicts, at the same time emergency humanitarian assistance must be stepped up so that is in line with food needs and the distress of affected populations. Voicing concern about the combined effects of destructive conflict, limited humanitarian assistance and climate change, she said the unprecedented situation in the Horn of Africa region is a reminder of the urgency to act. Moreover, Member States must invest in the long term by addressing the root causes of structural deficiencies that several countries face, whether they are shortcomings in governance, implementation of sustainable development commitments or addressing the climate crisis. She voiced hope that the upcoming twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt will be an opportunity to reiterate international commitments and to secure necessary financing to address those combined threats.

ARIAN SPASSE (Albania), noting that the year 2022 is likely to set a record as the most food‑insecure year globally, stressed that “now more than ever we need this Council to redouble its efforts to address this global threat with the urgency it requires”. Stating that humanitarian action and respect for international humanitarian law can only mitigate the effects of a conflict on food systems, he emphasized that peaceful and negotiated political solutions to armed conflicts and violence are urgently needed. There is also an urgent need to empower people to secure access to food, as well as to ensure their participation in policy and decision-making processes. He stressed that those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law — especially when hunger is used as a method of war — must be held accountable and called for independent, impartial, full, prompt and effective investigations into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) pointed out that, behind the sobering numbers the Council heard today, “we are talking about real people — children and mothers whose voices are being silenced by hunger and violence”. There are many causes for the current global food crisis — from supply lines strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, to rising temperatures, severe drought and flooding destroying crops. But, conflict is chief among them. The Russian Federation’s weaponization of food in its war on Ukraine has had global ripple effects and has exacerbated the crisis. To the questions posed by the Russian Federation’s representative, she said that the answer is simple: “End the unprovoked attack on Ukraine and that will get us out of part of this situation.” Turning to other areas of the world, she called on parties in Ethiopia to allow the unhindered delivery of humanitarian relief and to cease fighting; stressed that humanitarian access is vital to keep the situation in north-east Nigeria from spiralling; called on the international community to increase and expedite support for Yemen; and urged the South Sudanese Government to issue a decree mandating free, unimpeded movement for humanitarian assistance and protection for humanitarian workers. Adding that the causes and consequences of famine become the Council’s responsibility when it is driven by conflict, she stressed that the United States “will tackle food insecurity head on” and called on others to do the same.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said that, aside from the needless loss of lives and livelihoods, armed conflicts also contribute to dangerous conditions of food shortages, which some combatants resort to and calibrate as a “weapon of war”. He emphasized that a peaceful resolution of armed conflict and violence remains the surest way of guaranteeing the safety and security of civilians and averting the dangers of starvation and famine. In this regard, States’ commitments must be renewed to respect international humanitarian law, including prohibiting starvation of civilian populations as a weapon of war and the deliberate targeting of their means of livelihoods. “Parties to conflicts must be made to feel the weight of accountability if they target humanitarian workers and impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” he added. On the issue of monitoring, he stressed that the Security Council can help strengthen the protection of civilians in armed conflict by improving reporting mechanisms and tracking civilian harm through tools such as the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and the Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements.

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said parties to conflicts must abide by international humanitarian law and facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access, including by removing bureaucratic impediments to aid. Voicing concern that aid deliveries to the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia have not been possible since the resumption of conflict in late August, he called for immediate access for fuel, cash and food. Further, violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and impunity must end. Also needed is concerted action to protect food systems and promote resilience, he said, pointing out that in north-east Nigeria, for example, objects indispensable to the survival of civilians are being destroyed and conflict is preventing essential agricultural activity. Turning to the global food markets, he said implementation of the United Nations-brokered Black Sea Initiative, which has contributed to a 5.1 per cent decrease in global wheat prices, must continue. However, what is urgently needed is an end to conflict and an investment in sustainable durable peace. To that end, his country, a leading donor to the United Nations’ humanitarian appeals, will continue to provide $3.5 billion in humanitarian assistance over the next three years, he reported.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), praising the humanitarian organizations for their “heroic efforts all over the world”, stressed that they are short of resources and should be supported in their urgent calls for adequate funding and unimpeded humanitarian access. While food insecurity may be most acute in conflict-afflicted countries, it is a broader phenomenon. Therefore, he urged relevant States, regional bodies and the United Nations entities to refocus on Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals seeking zero hunger by 2030. He added that their efforts should be coordinated and collaborative to ensure they are conflict-responsive. Noting that there is sufficient evidence that the climate crisis aggravates conflict, he urged the Council to heed the call by countries in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa — two regions he described as two of the most affected areas — for action that links climate action with the peacekeeping and political missions of the United Nations. Especially where there are terrorist or militant groups that pose as a threat to civilians, the Council “must reconsider its continuing reluctance to support UN financial support for regional enforcement efforts”, he stressed.

NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), Council President for September, speaking in her national capacity, said the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine is worsening food insecurity and has contributed to increasing the risk of famine worldwide. In that regard, agreements concluded in Istanbul on 22 July must continue to be implemented so that grain can reach those most urgently in need. Moreover, the mechanism must be renewed beyond its initial four‑month period. The European Union solidarity corridors have released up to 10 million tons of grain from Ukraine since last March, thus contributing to lowering prices and avoiding a crisis in advance. It is in that spirit that her country, with the European Union, launched the “FARM initiative” [Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission]. That mission supports countries most affected by the global food crisis by increasing the transparency of agricultural markets and promoting fair access to agricultural goods and staples at reasonable prices, through the bolstering of sustainable local production. Her country’s financial contribution for food security and nutrition is increasing and will exceed €706 million this year.

MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) said that the illegal Russian war against Ukraine has further jeopardized global food chains, exposing the most vulnerable countries of the global South to limited food access and record-high food prices. Noting, however, that the Black Sea Grain Initiative “has become a beacon of hope”, he called on all parties involved to fully comply therewith. The European Union’s “Solidarity Lanes” are adding to this effort, accelerating exports to the global South via much-needed alternative routes. Food security has been a long‑standing priority for his country. Thus, Italy has increased its political, financial and technical support to the United Nations, particularly in partnership with the Organization’s agencies based in Rome. To avert the worst scenarios, the international community must maintain open food chains and transition towards sustainable, climate-smart and resilient food systems. “Rural people and local actors must be put back at the centre of these processes,” he stressed, adding that “food diplomacy” is crucial to mitigating the effects of the food crisis.

FOOD