US Rep. Meeks says Russian war on Ukraine is causing food shortages in Africa

Meeks tells Grio what he learned during a recent delegation trip to Ukraine that he and members of Congress briefed President Biden.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, met Wednesday with a United Nations official to address a growing problem of grain shortages in Ukraine stemming from the Russian invasion. which is now affecting the African continent.

The shortage has created a negative ripple effect on Africa’s famine crisis, Congressman Meeks said. elGrio of what he learned during his meeting with the executive director of the UN World Food Program, David Beasley. The lawmaker said that all 54 African nations have been affected by this grain shortage, particularly Ethiopia and the Congo.

Meeks said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy specifically discussed the issue with him and other members of the US delegation that recently traveled to Ukraine and neighboring Poland.

Rep. Meeks and the US delegation, made up of congressional leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, briefed President Joe Biden on what was learned during his visit to kyiv.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks outside the White House after meeting with US President Joe Biden on May 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“The president of the United States is very concerned and very focused on that because we know the unpredictability of Vladimir Putin and we know that time is of the essence,” Meeks said. elGrio. “That’s why we’re doing everything we can in a timely manner to try to penetrate and open up that port so we can get food out.”

elgrio outgoing White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asked during Thursday’s press conference, where President Biden takes a stand on the issue of concern over food shortages in Africa and around the world.

Psaki said it was “an important issue” and emphasized that the president, while in Chicago, “raised the issue of doing everything we can to increase supply here in the United States.” He also noted that such a shortage is not expected to occur on US soil.

“We want to be a supplier of American grain to the rest of the world, as we are seeing shortages in part due to the war in Ukraine,” Psaki said. elGrio. He added that as “the world’s largest provider of assistance in aiding global food programs,” the United States has provided a “huge amount of assistance” in anticipation of “what we see as potential food shortages.”

Grain and wheat supply assistance provided by the United States, which it said had been in the works for months, is expected to continue, Psaki noted.

Meeks said elGriothat in the meantime, it is imperative that the United States find other “mechanisms” to address the loss of grain around the world due to the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a visit by a US Congressional delegation on April 30, 2022 in kyiv, Ukraine.  (Photo by the Presidential Press Office of Ukraine/Handout via Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a visit by a US Congressional delegation on April 30, 2022 in kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by the Presidential Press Office of Ukraine/Handout via Getty Images)

The urgency that the war has created is why Congress approved a $40 billion package that provides economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Meeks said a significant amount of the humanitarian aid was secured by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations.

Meeks noted that Congress ultimately added more federal funding than President Biden had requested for the Ukraine package. The congressman expressed a sense of priority for the United States to respond to this moment.

“How do we collectively work to prevent the kind of famine that could happen if we don’t do something sooner rather than later?” he said.

United Nations agencies have warned that, in addition to the negative impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, tens of millions of people have been “sunk into extreme poverty by the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, climate shocks… and economic turmoil,” according to Reuters. .

As reported by CNBC Africa, a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises found that last year Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for nearly two-thirds of the 193 million people worldwide considered “acute food insecure.”

One report found that, in 2020, one in five people, or 21 percent of the population, went hungry in Africa. In total, 282 million Africans were undernourished. The year before, that number was about 236 million.

A Liberian man carries a bag of grain on his head on August 15, 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia.  (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

A Liberian man carries a bag of grain on his head on August 15, 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Meeks said Ukraine’s grain shortage is also beginning to affect countries in Central and South America, noting that “we are all interconnected” and that it will take a “global issue” to alleviate the shortage. Also, he said, there is now an increase in the cost of bread caused by the Russian invasion.

These worrying trends are the result of multiple factors that feed on each other, ranging from geographical conflicts and environmental and climate crises, to economic and health problems exacerbated by existing poverty and inequality.

Congressman Meeks said it’s important to get the word out and “act quickly” on the global food crisis, as it is a humanitarian issue, one that Speaker Pelosi and other leaders in Congress are focused on and will do whatever it takes. necessary to solve it.

He said elGrio“I want people to know that everything continues to be interconnected, not only with foreign policy, but also with domestic politics, the internal problems that we face here in the United States.”

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