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Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs remarks at International Conference “Uniting for Global Food Security,” 24 June 2022, Berlin


As delivered

Thank you, Germany, for bringing us together for this very important meeting.

And I think the title tells it all: “Uniting together with solidarity and respect for global food security.” That is truly an aspiration of central importance.

Thank you for this chance.

I was thinking earlier today that last October, when I was looking at, from a distance, the kind of humanitarian priorities that we might be facing early this year around the world, I was imagining that famine and the effect of climate change to produce potential famine was going to be our principal topic. I had no idea at that time that it wasn’t just going to be climate change which is forcing us to look at this important topic. It is man-made action that has compounded the threat to the world that we face.

Recently I was in northern Kenya, indeed looking at the effect of drought in Turkana. I spent some time, as one does, with the community, which, as we were hearing earlier, were one of those who had lost their livelihood, lost all their livestock – their pastoralist existence is threatened.

One thing was so striking: There was a woman in the primary school – the only institution left in that community. The woman in the primary school, who was a teacher, who had always arranged for water to be brought for the benefit of the school in the village from the river about 7 km away, now could no longer afford it. And why could she not afford it? Because of the war in Ukraine. Because food prices had gone up by three times, and so had the price of a jerrycan of water.

So, it is not imagination or conceptual ambiguity to say that there is a straight line between the actions in the war of Ukraine and the suffering we see in the South.

I think it is entirely right – first of all my two points – that uniting for global food security needs not just a humanitarian response, as I would focus on also looking at arrangements as Rebecca [Grynspan] was saying, potentially looking at better arrangements for food production and storage in different parts of the world.

I was struck by, when I was in Kenya, I met a senior official of the Government who said we face a second effect like the pandemic. We faced problems with our supply chain during the pandemic because we couldn’t bring in raw materials for producing basic drugs. Now we face the same in the war of Ukraine. We need to get Africa self-sufficient in the production of food.

My second and final point is, of course, to repeat the point that the Secretary-General made: the importance of releasing the opportunities for export from Ukraine and releasing the impediments for export from Russia of those key food stuffs.

We believe with your support and global solidarity that this can be achieved.

I thank you very much.


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