The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to unblock Ukrainian ports for exports from Ukraine. Otherwise, millions of people could die, CNN reports.
Asked what the head of the World Food Program would say to Putin, Beasley said: "If you have any heart at all for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open up those ports."
The United Nations has called for the resumption of ports activities in the Odesa region so that food from Ukraine can reach the rest of the world before the current global food crisis spirals out of control.
"Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full. At the same time, 44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation. We have to open up these ports so that food can move in and out of Ukraine. The world demands it because hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies," said Beasley.
The WFP predicts that if the ports do not open, Ukrainian farmers will have nowhere to store the next harvest in July-August, which would greatly damage the Ukrainian economy.
The United Nations has estimated that 276 million people worldwide were already facing acute hunger in early 2022. But that figure is expected to increase by 47 million if the war in Ukraine continues. Sub-Saharan Africa will be the most affected region.
Prior to the full-scale war, most food produced in Ukraine was exported through the country's seven Black Sea ports. In the eight months before the active war, about 51 million metric tons of grain passed through the ports.
Due to the fighting in Ukraine, food prices have already surpassed the record set earlier this year. During the month after the start of the active war, export prices for wheat and corn rose by 22% and 20%, respectively, in addition to the sharp rise in prices in 2021 and early 2022.