Food safety conference: “Russia is taking the whole world hostage”

Status: 06/24/2022 12:26 p.m

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

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has accused Russia of “deliberately using hunger in the world as a weapon of war”. Russia “takes the whole world hostage,” said Baerbock at the beginning of an international nutrition conference in Berlin.

345 million people worldwide are currently threatened by food shortages, the hunger crisis is building “like a life-threatening wave in front of us,” said the Green politician. Some of the reasons are not new: regional conflicts, droughts, the consequences of the climate crisis and Covid-19. But it was Russia’s war that “made a tsunami out of this wave.”

Baerbock criticized that Russia was trying “to put the blame for the exploding food prices on others”, but that was “fake news”. The government in Moscow bears sole responsibility for this. Russia blockade ports and shell granaries; there are also no sanctions against Russian grain exports.

Exports from Ukraine are to be accelerated

The conference in Berlin is about showing solidarity with Ukraine and with the people in the Global South who are suffering from the Russian war, said Baerbock. “We have to offer solutions.” One goal is to “accelerate” food exports from Ukraine.

She hopes that grain will be able to be exported from Ukraine again on a daily basis as early as July. In view of the Russian war of aggression, it is a question of finding permanent alternative routes for export from the blocked port of Odessa, said Baerbock. One possibility is the land route via Romania and inland shipping via the Danube. Grain is already being transported via this route. DB Cargo is also involved in the implementation.

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

“Somehow get the tsunami under control”

The Foreign Minister said that there was also talk of urgently increasing emergency aid for people suffering from hunger. Baerbock called on the international community to fight the worsening hunger crisis in the world with determination. “More than 44 billion euros will be needed this year, which is only half funded,” she said. The situation is highly dramatic.

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

“Worst famine since the end of World War II”

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

“If we don’t take countermeasures now, the worst famine since the Second World War is imminent,” said Schulze. In addition to financial aid, it is necessary to change the agricultural systems in countries in East Africa, for example, “so that people can plant themselves again,” emphasized Schulze.

Özdemir: “Show what we’re made of”

The federal government had invited people to the conference from all over the world, said Baerbock, and the interest had exceeded all expectations. On site in Berlin are 40 ministers, representatives of the United Nations and civil society and from countries that are particularly affected, such as representatives from Ukraine, Nigeria, Tunisia and Indonesia. The meeting also serves to prepare for the G7 summit from Sunday in Elmau, Bavaria. Concrete promises of financial aid are not to be expected at the Berlin conference.

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

The Green politician spoke of a “multidimensional warfare” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 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 the message today is: We won’t let Putin intimidate us. Now it’s about showing what we’re made of.”

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