Ripple effects from the war in Ukraine have generated a severe cost-of-living crisis which no country or community can escape, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday at a press conference to launch the latest report on the conflict’s impacts on food security, energy, and financing.

An estimated 1.6 billion people in 94 countries are exposed to at least one dimension of the crisis, with around 1.2 billion living in “perfect-storm” countries severely vulnerable to all three dimensions, the policy brief by the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG) has revealed. The report calls for stabilizing record-high food and fuel prices, implementing social safety nets, and increasing financial support to developing countries.

The UN chief said the message is clear and insistent: countries must act now to save lives and livelihoods. Furthermore, the crisis is amplifying the consequences of other challenges confronting countries, such as the climate emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, and inequalities in resources for post-pandemic recovery. The increase in hunger since the start of the war could be higher and more widespread, according to the report. The number of severely food insecure people doubled from 135 million prior to the pandemic, to 276 million over just two years. The ripple effects of the war could push this number to 323 million.

Some 60 per cent of workers worldwide have already lower real incomes than before the pandemic, meaning families are having to choose whether to skip meals, keep children in school, or pay medical bills, for example. Higher energy costs and trade restrictions on the fertilizer supply from the Black Sea region have caused fertilizer prices to rise even faster than food prices.

The report makes clear that the war’s impact on food security, energy and finance is systemic, severe, and speeding up, the UN Secretary-General said. Although ending the deadly and devastating conflict is the only way to stop the “gathering storm”, the UN chief called for immediate action on two fronts: stabilizing global food and energy markets and supporting poorer countries in the crisis. Stressing that there is no solution to the global crisis without also solving the economic crisis in the developing world, the UN chief called for greater resources to help the world’s poorest countries and communities at this time.

Source: The UN


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