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Millions more children face hunger as Black Sea grain corridor not renewed

Failure to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative means millions more children around the world will face devastating hunger, Save the Children said today.
18 July 2023

Signed in July 2022, the deal opened up export routes from Ukraine that had frozen when war escalated in February that year.

The initiative enabled nearly 33 million tons of grain and food staples to move via Black Sea ports to 45 countries, with developing nations receiving the largest share of food exports. It helped bring down food prices, stabilised the market, and put supplies on the tables of the most vulnerable children.

“Failure to renew the Black Sea Initiative today is a huge, life-threatening blow to vulnerable children living in countries in Africa and the Middle East who rely on grain staples.

“The grain deal was a lifeline to millions of boys and girls facing devastating hunger. Not renewing this initiative will prove catastrophic for children around the world and cost thousands of lives,” said Nana Ndeda, Humanitarian Advocacy and Policy Lead, Save the Children.

Ukraine and Russia are the world’s two main breadbaskets, suppling 30% of the world’s wheat. At least 25 countries in Africa import more than one third of the grain from these countries, with about 15 importing over half.

Failure to renew the grain deal puts Somalia at particular risk, as it imports nearly all its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Around 1.4 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in the drought-stricken country this year.

“Hunger already pervades the lives of thousands of children in Somalia – and failure to renew the grain deal will reap deadly consequences. Although this deal is debated many miles away from our country, its impact will trickle down to families in Somalia, as parents struggle to feed hungry and malnourished boys and girls,” said Save the Children’s Deputy Country Director for Programme Development and Quality in Somalia, Binyam Gebru.

Save the Children has been working in Somalia since 1951 and last year provided humanitarian aid to around 2.5 million children.

An interruption in grain deliveries will also have a massive impact on economically fragile countries in the Middle East and North Africa that rely on imports.

Lebanon imports over half of its wheat from Ukraine. A break in grain supply, coupled with the country’s worst economic crisis in a century, will deepen food insecurity in a country where 46% of Lebanese families worry about having enough to eat.

“Many caregivers don’t know where the next meal will come from, and a reduction in staples like wheat and grain hitting markets will be a severe blow to many families, with thousands of boys and girls forced to go hungry.

“Lebanon is now the country with the highest food price inflation in the world, with inflation at a staggering 352%. At the same time, millions of people in Lebanon have been classified as experiencing crisis or emergency levels of food consumption gaps. More needs to be done to prevent Lebanon from becoming the next tragic hunger emergency. Donors must invest in scaling up responses to support families to afford adequate levels of nutritious food,” said Jennifer Moorehead, Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon.

Families in Tunisia are also likely to be affected by failure to renew the Black Sea Grain deal. Half its wheat is imported from Ukraine. Since the war escalated last year, rising grain prices mean many families are struggling to buy bread.

“Tunisia has faced repeated economic crises over the years, and more recently, several foods are out of stock, with many families struggling to buy basic ingredients. Add to this already fragile situation a disruption in wheat imports, and that’s a disaster waiting to happen. This can only lead to an increase in poverty and hunger – and children will suffer the most,” said Mariam Mzoughi, Save the Children’s North Africa Migration Initiative Representative.

Save the Children calls for urgent action to restore trade routes from Ukraine.

“The worst global food crisis in decades is putting millions of children’s lives on the line, and this disruption to grain supplies risks making the situation dramatically worse. Over 800 million people are facing hunger globally – we must act now to stave off hunger for millions of boys and girls,” Nana Ndeda, Humanitarian Advocacy and Policy Lead, Save the Children.

Save the children works in many countries facing food crises.  We respond where the situation has become critical by getting emergency nutrition to children and implement long-term solutions and more resilient systems that better manage the risk of future food crises.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au.

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