'Shift of priorities' Food insecurity to work in China’s favour

Spiking food prices caused by the war in Ukraine are threatening to push more and more people around the world to the brink of starvation. If the G7 countries don’t deliver on aid, poorer nations might turn elsewhere
'Shift of priorities' Food insecurity to work in China’s favour

NEW DELHI: A few hours earlier, the fridge had been filled with butter. Many, many little glasses, each holding its own cold,golden clump, now all gone. The waitress apologises profusely after I approach her with my question and my plate of bread and cheese. The buffet needed to make space for the rows and rows of pudding vanilla with red currant, chocolate with cookie brought out as an afternoon snack. I assure her I’ll survive until the catered dinner in an hour,and exit the Bavarian banquet hall, past baskets of pretzels, towers of tiny salads and bowls of purple, yellow and beige hummus.As host of this year’s Group of Seven (G7)summit, Germany has spared no expense, at least not on catering. But as journalists

choose between spaghetti bolognese and sweet potato curry, the world leaders they’re here to cover are hidden away in a castle up in the nearby mountains, trying to solve

world hunger. The United Nations has warned that the world is facing an “unprecedented hunger crisis,” with around 180 million people expected to face a food crisis this year. Some 750,000 people living in Ethiopia,Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan are currently at risk of starvation and death, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said in New York on Tuesday. “When somebody is hungry, nothing else matters. Nothing,” Edwin Ikhuoria, Africa executive director of the ONE Campaign, a

nonprofit that fights against global poverty,said in an interview near one of several snack bars at the G7 press center. People knew this crisis was coming, he said, after it failed to rain for several farming cycles in a row. “You know what that means?”he said. “There is no harvest. Communities as a whole migrate to other places where they can find food. Livestock are practically dying on the field, because there is no grass.”Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made an alarming situation worse. Sanctions and fighting have disrupted the cultivation and shipment of commodities like wheat and sun-flower oil out of both countries, both major food exporters. Getting grain exports out of Ukraine is a central focus at the G7 summit,Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German public broadcaster ZDF from Schloss Elmau, the Al-pine hotel where the leaders congregated.“Negotiations are ongoing day and night,” he said. For the second day of the summit on Monday, the leaders of five major emerging market economies Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa were invited to join permanent members Germany,France, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and EU leaders for talks on food security. On Tuesday morning a US official said G7 leaders had agreed to pledge about $5 billion to help resolve food supply problems spreading worldwide. Shortages and the high cost of energy, also partly due to the war, have pushed up food prices around the globe, hitting the poorest countries the hardest.Poor people in African countries where the price of food has gone up so high are some-times pushed to sell household items in order to be able to buy food, said Ikhuoria.“This is a disaster,” he said. “This can breed real social unrest and instability.

Think about the Arab Spring. It was food prices that really sparked that.” He hoped the G7 and its guest countries and organisations would come away from the summit with

funding and a tangible plan for how to help countries in need secure food supplies. Global Citizen, an NGO fighting poverty, has called on the group to provide “several billions” to kick-start efforts to fight global hunger. Ikhuoria also hoped the leaders would come up with a plan for how to negotiate the opening of the Black Sea corridor to get vital

shipments of grain out of Ukraine. In a step in that direction, the G7 on Monday called on Russia to cease attacks on agricultural infrastructure and allow agricultural shipping from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea. Western leaders are under pressure to unite other countries behind their opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine, while Moscow is eager to blame Western sanctions for the worsening food crisis.“Russia is responsible for this dramatic crisis, not international sanctions,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at

a recent food security conference. “We know about indirect negative sanctions effects and we acknowledge them. However, they are much smaller than the brutal actions of Russia, which uses hunger as a weapon. ”Three of the invited countries India,Senegal and South Africa refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly, choosing to abstain from a vote held in March. Following a recent trip to Moscow to discuss food security, Senegalese President Macky Sall said he felt “reassured” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Sunday, the G7 unveiled its new plan for investment in global infrastructure. But the beneficiaries will be waiting to see concrete results. Ikhuoria said that because of foreign aid contributions, there had long been an assumption that Africa would always support the West. But Chinese investment in

the continent and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had changed that dynamic. “Do you think Africa can afford to stand against Russia?” he said. “Do you think they can actually

afford to stand against China? Do you know what is at stake for them?” “The truth of the matter,” he continued, “is that Africa does not mind multiple partners ... The more the

merrier, right? So it’s not like one for the other. It’s really about: how do we get Africans to utilise the opportunities it has and not force them to choose a side?”

This article was provided by Deutsche Welle

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