War in Ukraine is making 40 million starving, Africa will suffer, says US

DAKAR (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Friday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would cause food insecurity for 40 million people and the Sub-Saharan Africa would be hardest hit.

The United States secured $4.5 billion for food security at the G7 summit, including $2.76 billion.

The United States is also expected to provide $150 million in new humanitarian development assistance to Africa pending congressional approval, she added.

African governments have largely avoided taking sides in the European conflict and refused to join in Western condemnation and sanctions.

Africans “don’t want to be forced to choose sides” in a replay of the Cold War, but “need to know the facts”, Thomas-Greenfield said.

While energy, climate change, pandemic and conflict are the root causes of global food supply problems, the “most insidious source” is hunger intentionally used as a weapon of war, she said .

“Russia has systematically captured some of Ukraine’s most productive agricultural land, spoiling the fields with mines and bombs,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

“No matter what you think of Russia, we all have a powerful common interest in mitigating the impact of the war in Ukraine on food security,” she added.

French President Emmanuel Macron used similar language last week when he described the global food crisis as one of Russia’s “weapons of war” during a visit to Cameroon.

Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis and has blamed Western sanctions for slowing its food and fertilizer exports.

Thomas-Greenfield on Friday refuted that claim, suggesting instead that Russia deliberately moved to disrupt global food supply chains while blaming the West.

“We have seen no indication that Russia will accept a diplomatic solution” to the war in Ukraine, she said.

(Reporting by Cooper Inveen; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

Christi C. Elwood