War in Ukraine Causing a Global Food Crisis

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Isana Raja
Editor

The war in Ukraine has caused more than just a rise in gas prices—it’s actively contributing to a global food shortage. Ukraine and Russia account for a crucial portion of the world’s wheat, barley, corn, and sunflower oil exports; by some measures up to 12% of global caloric trade. Sanctions against Russia combined with Ukraine’s inability to export during the war has meant that large supplies of food have become trapped in supply chain limbo. 

For countries across the Middle East and Africa, which are highly dependent on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia, famine and starvation are imminent. Eleven countries, including Armenia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Eritrea import 70% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia; Thirty equatorial and Global South countries import 30% or greater, while the region of East Africa imports 90%. This comes as these countries are already facing food insecurity and famine from the pandemic, droughts, and ongoing conflict. 

Sanctions placed on Russian fertilizer are further compounding the crisis. Russia exports around 17% of the global fertilizer supply. As a result, many farmers in countries such as Mongolia and Serbia—who import more than 50% of their fertilizer from Russia—are unable to yield sufficient crops and livestock. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the number of hungry people across the world could balloon to between 8 million and 13 million as a result of the war in Ukraine. Those dependent on humanitarian aid, such as the people of Yemen and Afghanistan, will be hit the hardest. Additionally, the World Food Program has resorted to cutting daily rations for 3.8 million people in order to provide a degree of assistance to as many people as possible—essentially “taking food from the hungry to give to the starving.

Armenians Seek U.S. Foreign Aid Increase to Armenia & Artsakh

Photo Credit: Serouj Ourishian

By Lilit Arakelyan
Contributing Writer

Vice President of the National Assembly of Armenia, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, has asked Congress to recognize the urgent need for aid to Artsakh. The nation is recovering from the devastating effects of a weeks-long war. Efforts by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) have also called upon Armenian Americans to implore Congress’ adjustment of the fiscal year 2023 budget to include $150 million in aid to Armenia and Artsakh.

Saghatelyan’s appeal to Congress for a needs-assessment follows the release of President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget, which contains a $21 million dollar decrease in aid to Armenia. A report by the Government Accountability Office also noted that for nearly two decades the United States has been sending aid to Azerbaijan by waiving Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act of 1992, which was enacted to prevent U.S. support to Azerbaijan for fear that the funds would be used for an offensive against Armenia and Artsakh.

In 2020, Azerbaijan and Armenia were at war over the disputed territory of Artsakh, which displaced 57,000 Armenians, caused a loss of 75% of Artsakh territory, and incurred symmetric casualties of 2,000-3,000 service members. U.S. funds sent to Azerbaijan during fiscal years 2014-2021 were noncompliant with the reporting requirement of the Section 907 waiver, spurring concern over the impact of U.S. assistance to the military imbalance between the two nations. 

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing discussing the new foreign aid budget request and policy initiatives on April 27, 2022 at 9 a.m.