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UN wants measures in the WTO against the food crisis that affects millions

United Nations officials Rebeca Grynspan and Michelle Bachelet yesterday defended an agreement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference to prevent the war in Ukraine from worsening the food crisis for millions of people.

In an open letter, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), Rebeca Grynspan, write that the negotiations taking place this week in Geneva should lead to an agreement that can improve the food shortages that millions of people face in the poorest countries, particularly in Africa.

Cited by the Efe agency, the open letter argues that the end of restrictions on food exports to less developed countries and net importers of the basic food basket must be agreed, and they also demand financial and technical support so that these countries can take protective measures. to avoid a worsening of the food crisis.

In the text, they are also hopeful that the WTO will guarantee the obligation not to impose restrictions on exports for humanitarian purposes for the World Food Program, something to which 80 countries have committed in 2021 but which has become an urgent issue this year due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which cut off grain supplies to several dependent African countries, causing or exacerbating a food crisis.

The war “increased food shortages and hunger for tens of millions of people”, reads the open letter by Grynspan and Bachelet, who recall that African countries are obliged to import about 80% of their food and 92% from cereals to economies on other continents.

Russia and Ukraine concentrate around 25% of wheat exports and around 15% of barley exports, among other basic products, so the war between the two countries, together with sanctions and the Russian maritime blockade in the Black Sea , has exacerbated the global food crisis that began during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that wheat prices have increased by around 56% in a year, with vegetable oils rising by 45% and fertilizers, another product that is heavily exported by these two countries and essential for African countries, they increased by 128%.

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