Blinken to speak at UN against using hunger as weapon
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will appear before the UN Security Council on Thursday to denounce the use of food as a weapon, according to officials, with Russia in the firing line for its war on Ukraine.
The United States took over the monthly presidency of the Security Council on Tuesday, and Blinken will use the podium to make the fight against food insecurity, in particular when linked to conflicts, a theme of the UN meeting.
“Hunger must not be weaponized,” Blinken will tell the Council.
Washington intends to have a “joint communique condemning the use of food as a weapon of war” adopted on the sidelines of the meeting, which has already been signed by more than 75 countries, a State Department official said on condition of anonymity on Wednesday evening.
Blinken is not looking to turn the meeting “into a showdown with Russia,” another official told reporters.
But Moscow will clearly be in the crosshairs for its invasion of Ukraine and its recent withdrawal from the so-called Black Sea grain agreement.
Russia last month refused to extend the agreement, which allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea, leading to a spike in grain prices that hit poorer countries hard.
The agreement, signed in July 2022 with Turkey acting as UN-backed facilitator between Ukraine and Russia, aimed to alleviate the risk of famine in the world by guaranteeing access of Ukrainian grain to work markets despite the war.
“After Russia terminated the Black Sea Initiative, wheat prices have risen again by 17 percent,” said the US official.
Russian drones on Wednesday damaged infrastructure at a Ukrainian port on the Danube, as Moscow targeted facilities vital for grain shipments from Ukraine following the collapse of the Black Sea agreement.
Blinken will also announce $362 million in new funding for programs to combat food insecurity and malnutrition in a dozen African countries and Haiti, the official said.
Some 345 million people in 79 countries suffer from acute food insecurity, the US officials said.
Among the many causes of world hunger, in addition to armed conflict, are the effects of climate change.
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