August 7, 2023
WASHINGTON – In 2022, an estimated 258 million people in 58 countries experienced crisis-level acute hunger, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), the global humanitarian organization addressing food security. Russia’s recent decision no longer to allow Ukraine to export tons of grain means more people are likely to go hungry. In response to the rising concern, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, calls on global leaders to do more to ensure food security for all. Bishop Malloy’s full statement follows:
“Globally, food insecurity has risen in the last few years due to the impacts of the pandemic, natural disasters, economic downturns, but especially due to conflict. Ukraine, prior to the Russian invasion, was considered ‘Europe’s breadbasket,’ shipping significant amounts of wheat, corn and barley, and almost half of the world’s sunflower oil through ports on the Black Sea. When Russia invaded Ukraine, those ports were blocked.
“From July 2022, the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), the UN-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine, allowed Ukraine to export about 33 million tons of grain and other agricultural products. Russia’s decision to withdraw from the BSGI and its bombing of grain storage facilities in Ukraine will greatly impact the availability of food supplies at a time when more people are in dire need of food. With the number of forcibly displaced people at a record high, the World Food Programme estimates 345 million people will face acute hunger this year, with 129,000 potentially facing famine in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Myanmar.
“Recognizing this critical need, Pope Francis has said, ‘The blocking of grain exports from Ukraine, on which the lives of millions of people depend, especially in the poorest countries, is of great concern. I make a heartfelt appeal that every effort be made to resolve this issue and to guarantee the universal human right to food. Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war!’
“The food crisis is intertwined with persistence of conflicts. I join with our Holy Father in calling on global leaders to look beyond narrow national interests, focus on the common good, and join in ensuring that critical food supplies can flow to those most in need. The most vulnerable are crying in hunger. With the compassion of Christ, we need to heed their cries and help.”