Food Security Conference: “Russia takes the whole world hostage”

Status: 24.06.2022 14:33

At the invitation of the federal government, the conference is to find a way out of the worsening food crisis. Foreign Minister Baerbock spoke of a “life-threatening wave” and made serious allegations against Russia.

Federal Secretary of State Annalena Baerbock has accused Russia of “deliberately using world hunger as a weapon of war.” Russia “is taking the world hostage,” Baerbock said at the start of an international conference on nutrition in Berlin.

345 million people around the world are currently at risk of food insecurity, and the famine is facing us “like a life-threatening wave,” said the Greens’ politician. Some of the reasons are not new: regional conflicts, drought, the effects of the climate crisis and Covid-19. But it was the Russian War that “made this wave a tsunami.”

Baerbock and Blinken: The only mistake of Moscow

Baerbock criticized Russia for trying to “blame exploding food prices on others,” but that was “false news.” The Moscow government has sole responsibility for this. Russia is blocking ports and sniper granaries; there are also no sanctions against Russian grain exports.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke similarly at the conference. Russia “deliberately lets food prices explode (…) to destabilize entire countries.” There is no other reason for rising food prices around the world than the Russian blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and the restriction of Moscow’s own exports, Blinken continued. Russia acts for “political reasons”.

Exports from Ukraine are set to accelerate

Baerbock said the Berlin conference was about showing solidarity with Ukraine and with people in the global South suffering from the Russian war. “We have to offer a solution.” One of the goals is to “accelerate” food exports from Ukraine.

He hopes that it will be possible to export grain from Ukraine daily in July. With regard to the Russian offensive war, it is a matter of finding permanent alternative routes for export from the blocked port of Odessa, Baerbock said. One option is a land route through Romania and inland shipping across the Danube. Grain is already being transported this way. DB Cargo also participates in the implementation.

The federal government supports Turkey’s efforts to find a way to release blocked ports. Baerbock rejected Russia’s demand that Ukraine clean up the ports first.

“Somehow to catch a tsunami”

The foreign minister said there was also talk of an urgent increase in emergency aid for people suffering from hunger. Baerbock called on the international community to resolutely combat the worsening hunger crisis in the world. “More than 44 billion euros will be needed this year, which is only half the funding,” she said. The situation is very dramatic.

But the conference is not a donor, it’s not just about money. “Thinking” is also on the agenda: poorer countries need to better arm themselves against crises. It’s about “somehow getting this tsunami under control.”

“The worst famine since the end of World War II”

The conference is held at the invitation of Baerbock, Minister of Development Svenja Schulz and Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir. Schulze explained that about 400 million people worldwide would normally be supplied with food from Ukraine. In many countries, these deliveries failed to take place, and even more countries suffered from high world market prices as a result of the war in Ukraine. “As always, the poorest suffer the most.”

“If we do not take countermeasures now, there is a risk of the worst famine since World War II,” Schulze said. In addition to financial aid, agricultural systems in East African countries, for example, need to be changed “so that people can replant,” Schulze said.

Özdemir: “Show what we are made of”

The federal government invited them to a conference around the world, the interest exceeding all expectations, Baerbock said. There are 40 ministers, representatives of the United Nations and civil society, and from countries that are particularly affected, such as representatives of Ukraine, Nigeria, Tunisia and Indonesia. The meeting also serves to prepare for Sunday’s G7 summit in Elmau, Bavaria. Do not expect specific promises of financial assistance at the Berlin conference.

Özdemir called for a “strong signal” against global hunger from the upcoming summit. The fight for food security must be approached in accordance with the protection of climate and species, he said.

The green politician spoke of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “multidimensional war.” They want to defeat Ukraine militarily, wage a hunger war against the global South and an energy war against the European Union. “That’s why today’s message is: We won’t let Putin intimidate us. Now it’s about showing what’s inside us.”

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