US Secretary of State/Security Council President on Fighting Food Insecurity & More

Source The United Nations



Media – United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the world has “seen an almost perfect storm emerge in recent years, a combination of climate change, of COVID, and now particularly of conflict, that is driving this food insecurity.”

Under the United States presidency of the Security Council during August, Blinken presided over an open debate on Thursday (3 August) to discuss the theme “Famine and conflict-induced global food insecurity”.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Blinken noted that “there are now about 260 million people around the world who are acutely food insecure.”

He added, “And in turn, this food insecurity drives conflict and forced migration. It stunts growth, both physical growth and economic growth. It holds countries back and holds people back.”

Blinken also said that “the flip side of the coin” is “increasingly seeing food being used as a weapon of war, for leverage, for political purposes, in conflict after conflict.”

The Secretary-State also announced that 91 countries had committed in a joint communique to ending the use of food as a tool of war.”

“That in and of itself is a powerful statement, and we urge others to join,” said Blinken.

The Secretary of State noted that “thanks to the good work of the United Nations Secretary-General and Türkiye an agreement was put in place that allowed grain to flow through the Black Sea, the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”

Blinken said that “while that agreement was in force, more than 30 million tons of grain were able to get out of Ukraine and to markets around the world” and “well over half of that to developing countries and two-thirds of the wheat to developing countries.”

According to him, “It was the equivalent of 18 billion loaves of bread.”

Blinked added, “Two weeks ago, Russia tore up that agreement. The result has been rising prices for countries around the world. The result has been a diminution in access to these food products, particularly for developing countries. And as we’ve seen Russia’s actions since then, not only in tearing up the deal but in intentionally targeting food silos in Ukraine, literally destroying food, as well as the means to produce it while holding ports and sea lanes at risk to prevent countries from shifting these products out of Ukraine and to the people who needed.”

The US representative then listed all the help his country and others are providing but noted that “it’s not enough.”

He noted that, according to the World Food Program, $25 billion are needed to address the food insecurity of well over 100 million people around the world.

He added, “To date, only 4.5 billion of that has been pledged by various countries. We have to do better. We have to do more. We have to do it now.”

Asked about the situation in Niger, Blinken said, “We’ll see how the coming days play out, but as I said, we believe it is vitally important that what ECOWAS has called for actually takes effect, and that is the freeing of President Bazoum and restoration of the constitutional order. And we support the efforts that ECOWAS is making, including the pressure it’s exerting to achieve that result.”

The Secretary of State was also asked about US and China relations, noting, “There’s an obligation that both the United States and China try to manage responsibly this relationship that starts with western Iraq, including dealing directly with our very serious differences, as well as seeing if we can find areas for cooperation that would benefit our people and benefit many people around the world. And again, all of that starts with engaging, talking, and being very clear and direct with one another. That’s why it would be beneficial to continue these conversations.”

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