May 1, 2022 - World

Samantha Power: Food shortages "another catastrophic effect" of Russia's war

Soaring global food shortages are "another catastrophic effect" of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, USAID administrator Samantha Power told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Driving the news: Russia and Ukraine supplied about 30% of the world's wheat and barley before the war. Thirty-six countries, including some of the world's most vulnerable and impoverished, relied on them for more than half of their wheat imports.

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in March that the war in Ukraine threatened to lead to "a global hunger crisis."

The big picture: Power, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said global food prices are "up 34% from where they were a year ago. Aided substantially, again, by this invasion."

What they're saying: "We've gone to Congress asking for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance," Power said, adding that USAID is also working with farmers to increase food supply.

  • "Fertilizer shortages are real now because Russia is a big exporter of fertilizer. And even though fertilizer is not sanctioned, less fertilizer is coming out of Russia," Power added. "As a result, we're working with countries to think about natural solutions like manure and compost.
  • “We really do need this financial support from the Congress to be able to meet emergency food needs so we don’t see the cascading deadly effects of Russia’s war extend into Africa and beyond."

Power on CBS' "Face the Nation" expressed gratitude to Congress for its previous willingness to approve aid packages for Ukraine. She said the funds are being used on "everything from demining to trauma kits to food assistance."

  • "But the burn rate is very, very high as prices spiral inside Ukraine and outside Ukraine. So that's why this supplemental is so important," she noted, adding that the new aid would entail both humanitarian assistance and direct budget support for the Ukrainian government.
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