Grain deal catastrophe requires strong famine response

Help Fight Famine - ACFID

Russia’s decision to backtrack on a deal to unblock passage of millions of tonnes of grain through southern Ukraine will lead to a catastrophic jump in price, devastating nations already dealing with hunger, and reinforcing the case for a robust Australian response, according to Help Fight Famine and the Australian Council for International Development. Analysts say 218 ships are immediately affected and will drive a substantial spike in prices. According to Ukraine’s foreign ministry, two million tons of grain have been held up, enough to feed over 7 million people. While the deal was in place nine million tonnes of food products were able to be exported, bringing down global prices. Help Fight Famine and ACFID said the development reinforced the need for Australia to commit to the following package:

  • Deliver an urgent $150 million Famine Prevention Package to stop a catastrophe in the worst-affected hunger hotspots in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen;
  • Invest long-term in a targeted Global Food Security Strategy;

“Even before this devastating news we were in the throes of a crisis. Nations such as Somalia are already on the brink of famine, with 300,000 Somalians facing starvation or death in the coming months,” said Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID. “The previous famine in Somalia showed the importance of moving swiftly. Approximately half the 260,000 people who died were children and this was made worse by the slow international response. Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena concurred. “The collapse of this grain deal is a flashing siren that demands urgent attention,” Susanne Legena said. “People are already dying from hunger. We will save more lives if we move now.” Australia has so far pledged $15 million emergency assistance to famine relief, but should urgently increase that commitment, Half Fight Famine spokesman, Reverend Tim Costello said. “Australians are a reasonable and enlightened people. They would happily part with five dollars per head to prevent children dying. “It is the right and moral thing to do. We must play our part in preventing avoidable suffering and trauma.”

/Public Release.