Thank UNHCR for organizing this important side event, highlighting the global consequences of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, not only for the Ukrainian people, but for people all over the world.
The EU and its Member States share your deep concern over the global impact of Russia’s war, particularly on already fragile countries – as outlined in the second brief of the Global Crisis Response Group. This of course includes many countries and communities that are hosting significant numbers of refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.
The EU and its Member States remain fully engaged and have quickly mobilized on broad fronts to address and mitigate the global consequences of the war, working closely with our global partners.
- Humanitarian assistance. We remain fully committed to continue provide significant funding and support for forced displacement and other crisis across the world. As Team Europe, we pledged EUR 1 billion in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions and over EUR 600 million for the Horn of Africa. We also put in place a EUR 225 million food facility to swiftly assist our partners in North Africa – the region most dependent of agricultural supplies from Ukraine and Russia. The EU’s planned support to develop sustainable food systems in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood, the Western Balkans and Turkey, is already close to EUR 1.5 billion in the period 2021-2024. Overall, almost 20% of the EU’s annual humanitarian aid budget is dedicated to emergency food assistance and nutrition. This makes the EU one of the world’s major donors in this area.
- Food security. The global food crisis requires a comprehensive and well-coordinated response. In May, the EU and its Member States committed to work with all global partners on an “EU Global Food Security Response”. As part of this commitment, the EU has already identified an overall contribution of over EUR 5 billion in humanitarian and development assistance for global food security (covering the period 2021-2024). This includes over EUR 2 billion to countries for projects on sustainable agriculture, basic nutrition, water and sanitation, and social safety protection in Sub-Saharan Africa, and another EUR 1 billion for the Southern Neighbourhood partners, that complement the EU’s Food and Resilience Facility worth EUR 225 million in support of this region. Another EUR 960 million are foreseen for Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia until 2024.
- Trade. We need to get Ukrainian grain back to the global market. There are around 20 million tons of grains in Ukraine’s silos, blocked by Russian shelling and blocking of Ukrainian ports. To alleviate the situation, in the EU we are opening new pathways through Poland and Romania. Adding to the challenge, however, is Russia, as well as some other countries, restricting its exports of fertilizers and of certain foods.
- Multilateralism: The EU is committed to anchoring the global food security response in the multilateral system and we work closely with the United Nations, the G7 and other multilateral formats providing solutions to the food crisis. We are committed to a lean and agile governance structure of global initiatives that is aligned with the UN SG’s Global Crisis Response Group. We also call for a strong emphasis on action-oriented programs that make a difference for the people affected.
The EU is highly concerned about the wider humanitarian impact of Russia’s war of aggression, as a shortage of goods and an increase in prices will create greater hardship for millions relying on humanitarian assistance and decrease the efficiency of humanitarian operations. We are particularly concerned about the shrinking protection space for displaced populations, who are often among the most vulnerable. The crisis should also serve as a catalytic turning point to address the issue of chronic underfunding for UN humanitarian action, as well as other key issues, notably advancing the efficiency agenda (Grand Bargain) and operationalizing the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.
While acute hunger, malnutrition and risk of famine, caused predominantly by poverty, conflicts, political instability, socioeconomic conditions, natural hazards and climate change were already on the rise, it is clear that Russia’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine – with its deliberate bombardment and looting of agricultural assets, destroying storage and food processing facilities, together with the blockade of Black Sea ports – have dramatically aggravated the food security crisis.
It is our duty to dismantle Russia’s disinformation. The EU sanctions have not caused this crisis. No sanctions are imposed on basic food commodities. EU sanctions do not target the trading or payment of grain, or other food, between Russia and third countries and Russian-flagged vessels may access EU ports for purchase, import and transport of agricultural and food products.
The sole purpose of EU sanctions is to bring to an end the brutal war and aggression as quickly as possible. In the end, this is what is needed to end the current global food crisis and to avoid the heavy toll this is having on forcibly displaced and other persons under UNHCR’s mandate.