Ukraine: On the Edge of a Global Catastrophe
The war in Ukraine, conflict, climate and COVID-19 have led to soaring food prices across the world and to a major nutrition crisis. Across the world millions of children are at increasing risk of death.
The number of people facing crisis levels of hunger worldwide has more than doubled from December 2019 to 275 million today. Today, 44 million at risk of famine. For children this is a catastrophe. Children under five are most likely to suffer from severe malnutrition and can die without treatment.
Why is this happening? What’s the link between the Ukraine war and malnutrition?
The war in Ukraine is causing immense disruption to food and fuel supplies around the world. This is resulting in soaring food costs pushing millions of families into food insecurity.
Russia and Ukraine are known as the ‘breadbaskets’ of the world, producing around one third of the world’s grain. They are also among the main producers of oil, gas and fertilizers. For many countries, the war is deepening the severe food insecurity caused by conflict, climate change and COVID-19.
As a result, the hardest hit countries are seeing rates of severe malnutrition soar among children, and it’s predicted to get worse.
Which regions / countries are of most concern?
There has been an alarming increase in malnutrition in the Horn of Africa. Here a historic drought is threatening the lives of millions of children. In West and Central Africa, acute funding shortfalls for RUTF supplies could place the lives of 600,000 children at . In South Sudan, malnutrition is at record levels due to failed crops, diseases and flooding.
In Yemen, food shortages could become rampant. Yemen imports 31% of its grain from Ukraine. With nearly 75% of the population in need of humanatarian assistance, disruption of grain imports could be devastating for children. Despite dedicated efforts to tackle malnutrition, this crisis will put millions of children in Yemen’s lives at risk.
In Afghanistan, where UNICEF has its largest ever single-country appeal, funding is already running low. Here more than 24 million people, more than half the population, need humanitarian assistance to survive. With food prices ever increasing, the situation for children in Afghanistan has never been more critical.
Are we facing a global hunger crisis?
The world is indeed on the verge of a global food crisis and it’s set to have a devastating impact on children. An estimated 275 million people are living in acute hunger today, more than double the number in 2019. 44 million people are at risk of famine.
Levels of severe malnutrition are increasing precisely in places where the risk of mortality is the highest.
In situations of extreme food insecurity, children are at increased risk of death. Their survival depends on access to nutritious, affordable and consistently available food.
Now the lethal combination of conflict, including in Ukraine, climate shocks and COVID-19 is set to increase the prices of food. This includes the ready to use therapeutic food that UNICEF supplies to children. This could leave up to 600,000 additional children in need and without access to treatment.
What is UNICEF doing?
Ideally UNICEF would be scaling up our response, but there is a funding crisis to match the food crisis. The price of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to treat malnourished children may increase by up to 16 per cent in the next six months. As a result, an additional 600,000 children could miss out on life-saving treatment.
In countries like Yemen and Afghanistan, the funding gap is especially large, meaning that not every child can be reached. With the cost of RUTF increasing, this means that while our work has never been more needed, our resources are thin.
What Can I do?
This is an extraodinary situation. As the needs of children grow, so does the price of treating them. That is placing millions of children are at risk of dying from hunger, when no child should.
The outlook for the next six months is especially alarming. That is why we are asking everyone to start a monthly donation. Please start a monthly gift of €30 that could feed three children each month.
The situation for children has never been more critical. Please don’t wait, please donate here today and feed a hungry child.