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World News

Christian Aid warns of global famine and new refugee crisis as Ukraine war pushes up prices

by Donna Birrell

Christian Aid has warned of a global humanitarian crisis as the war in Ukraine continues to affect global food and energy prices.   

The international development charity has published a report warning that ‘the time to act is now.’

The charity said global hunger has almost doubled since 2019 and it fears a new refugee crisis if Christian Aid projects in several countries are set back because of increasing prices. 

The report said areas in Burundi are running out of fuel, while in in the Democratic Republic of Congo, local traders say the current situation is worse than during the pandemic.

In Zimbabwe, food prices in May were 154 per cent higher than the previous year, with year-on-year inflation at 131 per cent. 

In Afghanistan, Christian Aid workers in Herat found that the cost of a 16 litre oil pack has risen from 3000 Afghani (£27) to 4300 Afghani (£39) in just one week. The size of bread in Herat bakeries has also reduced “significantly” after flour prices doubled in the last month.  

Christian Aid is one of 15 international aid agencies to have signed an open letter to UK government ministers calling on them to commit new funding to tackle famines around the world in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

It reads: “In this moment of unprecedented support to Ukraine, we must also recognise that the conflict is causing suffering far beyond its borders, including through the twin impact of rising food and energy costs. This is exacerbating pre-existing hunger crises for many countries, including in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and the Middle East, which will threaten political stability. If we don’t act fast the threat of famine will increase for millions of people.   

“Globally, 45 million people were already at risk of famine, with women and girls making up 60 per cent of food insecure people worldwide. The UN projects that a further 8-20 million people will now be left hungry from the knock-on effects of soaring prices and broken supply chains for grains, cooking oil, fertiliser and fuel. Girls and women face particular risks, as they often eat less and last when food is scarce. Even before the crisis, the UN’s World Food Programme reported that 3 million children a year died from malnutrition - one every 10 seconds.”

Christian Aid has called on the UK government to uphold a famine commitment agreed at the G7 summit last year, including new funding to scale up crisis preparedness and response, and to restore international aid cuts to 0.7 per cent of GDP. 

Michael Mosselmans, Christian Aid's Head of Humanitarian said: “We must be clear; we are facing a humanitarian crisis. Poverty and hunger are set to rise exponentially in some of the poorest parts of the world. Christian Aid is hearing of growing fears that a food crisis could lead to riots and instability. While these fears remain under-reported, we must be ready for a refugee crisis like the Arab Spring. The time to act is now.” 

Subrata De, the charity's manager for Afghanistan warned: “One cannot imagine the situation of poor families. People are openly offering to sell their body parts to manage the price hike. Very soon Afghanistan will experience another round of extreme humanitarian situation where families will be forced to sell their children.”   

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