EU must put money in its mouth, says Oxfam ahead of EU development ministers meeting on food security – Reuters

Tomorrow, European development ministers are meeting to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on food security around the world. Ahead of that, Oxfam is calling on the EU to step up and tackle the growing global hunger crises across the world.

The EU has warned that the war in Ukraine will cause food prices to skyrocket and with it hunger. Despite this, there is no new money promised by the EU and only a fraction of EU countries to soften the blow.

The EU’s only kitty for tackling food insecurity is last December’s €2.5 billion pledge. The amount is not enough to cover the EU’s fair share of feeding the 811 million people – almost one in 10 people – who did not have enough to eat in 2020. He does not argue either enough sustainable agriculture – the small family farming that feeds the majority of people in many poor countries.

The war in Ukraine is aggravating an already dire situation. Ukraine’s food exports feed about 400 million people. Many poor countries depend on these exports to feed their people. East Africa imports 90% of its wheat – a key food for most people in the region – from Ukraine and Russia. This drought-ravaged region probably sees one person dying of hunger every 48 seconds.

This against a backdrop of rising food prices due to the pandemic, which are skyrocketing due to the war in Ukraine. The World Bank estimates a 37% increase in food prices. The price of wheat soared by 80% between April 2020 and December 2021. Combined with the climate crisis, conflict and Covid-19, and exacerbated by poverty and extreme inequality, the consequences are felt most in countries vulnerable affected by these aggravating factors.

Hanna Saarinen, food expert from Oxfam EU said:

“Already before the war in Ukraine, millions of people around the world could not afford to buy food to feed their families. Now millions more are falling straight from the jaws of hunger.

“For years, all the warning signs of near-famine conditions were there. We have seen countries like Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan sink into hunger. Yet EU leaders ignored the warning signs. Instead, they chose not to act with the speed and seriousness the crisis demanded and put food security and sustainable agriculture at the bottom of their to-do list. We saw it with the deplorable decision not to allocate any funding to the sector in the EU’s seven-year long-term budget for 2021-2027.

“And we are seeing the impact of that now. Colleagues in Syria tell us how Syrians used to fear dying from the war, but now they fear dying of starvation. In East Africa, this crisis comes on top of an already devastating situation where someone is likely to die every 48 seconds. Development programs in this region have remained chronically underfunded and there has been a failure to address the underlying reasons that cause chronic hunger and increase inequality.

“The EU must now put its money in its mouth. We’ve heard all the good stuff, now action must follow. The EU can play a role in eradicating hunger once and for all. But the current promises are just a drop in the ocean and were made before the war in Ukraine. They are simply not enough. The EU must close the gap between what people can afford and the price of the food they need. It must also redefine the priority of support for small family farming, which would constitute the very basis of food security for populations. The current crisis underscores the urgency and importance of this.

Notes to Editors

In December 2022, the EU pledged €2.5 billion for the period 2021-2024 at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in Tokyo. The EU envelope covers humanitarian aid to meet urgent needs as well as support to tackle the underlying causes of malnutrition, including a longer-term transformation of food systems in EU partner countries. EU.

Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture were among the top priorities for EU development cooperation for the period 2014-2020 (latest MFF/EU long-term budget). The EU committed over €8.8 billion to this sector, which corresponded to 20% of the EU’s development portfolio at the time. By comparison, the current budget has not allocated money to food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture.

The current long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 may be changed next year.

Read Oxfam’s briefing, Crisis in Ukraine: How and Why It Could Worsen Global Hunger Crises. It documents case studies of hunger hotspots in Yemen, Syria and East Africa. According to the World Food Programme, more than 50% of Lebanese wheat exports come from Ukraine. The cost of basic food items in Lebanon has increased by 1,000%.

Read Oxfam and Save the Children’s report, Dangerous Delay 2: The cost of inaction, which shows how one person is likely to die of hunger every 48 seconds in drought-ravaged East Africa as the world ignore warnings.

The World Food Program has estimated that Ukrainian food exports feed 400 million people.

World Food Bank price estimates are available here.

In April 2022, Oxfam released a new report, “First Crisis, Then Catastrophe”, warning that more than a quarter of a billion more people could fall into extreme levels of poverty in 2022 due to COVID-19, growing global inequality and the shock of rising food prices accentuated by the war in Ukraine. At the same time, the value of the world’s 1,200 largest companies has increased by 56% since the start of 2019, and American companies have made record profits of 37% while paying a lower share of federal tax revenues.

Contact information

Jade Tenwick | Brussels, Belgium | [email protected] | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

For updates please follow @OxfamNews and @OxfamEU

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