Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Associated Press interview: UN food chief says Mariupol is starving

KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – The head of the United Nations World Food Program said people were being “starved to death” in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine, and predicted the country’s humanitarian crisis was likely to worsen Because Russia has intensified its attack. coming weeks.

WFP executive director David Beasley warned in an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv on Thursday that Russia’s invasion of grain-exporting Ukraine risks destabilizing nations far from its shores and making them seek better lives elsewhere. could trigger waves of migrants in

The war that began on February 24 was “devastating people in Ukraine,” he said, lamenting the lack of access faced by the WFP and other aid organizations in trying to reach those in need amid the conflict.

“I don’t see any of it coming easy. I don’t see it happening right now,” he said.

The fluid nature of the conflict, which has seen fighting move away from areas around the capital and toward eastern Ukraine, has made it particularly difficult to reach hungry Ukrainians.

The WFP is now trying to supply food to areas that could be mired in fighting, but Beasley acknowledged there are “a lot of complications” as the situation evolves rapidly.

The lack of access is part of the problem, he said, but so is the lack of manpower and fuel as resources are diverted to the war effort.

“It’s not going to be just the next few days – but the next few weeks and a few months may be more complicated than they are now,” he said. “In fact, it is getting worse and worse, concentrated in a few areas, and the further lines are about to move.”

Beasley expressed particular concern about the port city of Mariupol, where a dwindling number of Ukrainian defenders are facing a Russian siege, which has trapped more than 100,000 civilians in dire need of food, water and heating.

Russian forces controlling access to the city did not allow aid, even though the WFP sought access.

“We will not spare the people of Mariupol and others whom we cannot reach. But this is a disastrous situation: people are starving,” he said.

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Russia is determined to seize the city, so its forces from the Crimean peninsula can fully engage with troops in the eastern Donbass region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland and target of an impending invasion.

The UN food chief warned of devastating ripple effects due to Ukraine’s role as a major international grain supplier.

The war-caused global food shortage could prompt “migration on a greater scale than anything we have seen since World War II”, he echoed remarks made at the UN Security Council last month.

Russia and Ukraine together produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply and export about three-quarters of the world’s sunflower seed oil. About half of the grain WFP buys for distribution around the world comes from Ukraine.

Beasley said some 30 million metric tons of grain bound for export are unable to be shipped because of the war. Ukrainian farmers are struggling to access fertilizer and seeds, and those who can plant could see their crop rotting in the fields if the war continues and there is no way to send it, he warned.

Shipping challenges have forced the WFP to halve rations for millions of people in Africa, and more cuts may be needed, he said.

He said, ‘People are going to starve.

Beasley also visited areas near Kyiv that had been ravaged by the Russian invasion, including the city of Buka, where evidence of mass killings and other atrocities against civilians shocked the world.

He described the neighborhood as “completely destroyed by the bombing”, which he saw as a nightmare that was impossible to believe.

But he stopped short of describing the killings as genocide, as did US President Joe Biden this week.

“Well, I know one thing. People are dying,” he said when asked about Biden’s comments. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that this is a horror story and it’s really heartbreaking. It’s gonna be.”


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