Remarks by Deputy Minister Megi Fino at the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Famine and Conflict-Induced Global Food Insecurity

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August 3, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President,

Let me begin by thanking the US presidency for convening this timely debate today and welcome you, Secretary Blinken, in the chair.

We are grateful to the US for its coherence and continued action in keeping the focus on this issue of paramount importance, for all of us, especially for those anywhere who continue to struggle to make ends meet.

In this respect, we welcome the PRST proposed by the US as a timely reminder of the collective duty to put everything in place to ensure proper responses to address conflict-induced food insecurity, including malnutrition and famine.

I also thank the briefers for their insightful presentations today.

Food insecurity is a pressing global challenge, and today, more than ever, a range of colliding factors such as conflicts, climate change, underdevelopment and macroeconomic shocks are threatening global food security worldwide.

The number of people facing acute food insecurity has increased from 193 million in 2021 to 258 million in 2022. More than a quarter of a billion people faced acute hunger in 58 countries and territories in 2022. In 19 countries and territories, roughly 117 million people suffer from high levels of acute food insecurity due to conflict and insecurity. This has put a heavy toll on humanitarian interventions and food assistance efforts to meet the growing needs.

Further, acute hunger, one step away from famine, is increasingly alarming and constitutes a threat not only to the communities and the populations concerned but also to peace and security in many regions of the world.

This is what is happening nowadays in Afghanistan, Haiti, the Sahel region, South Sudan, the Sudan, Yemen, where populations face starvation in absence of urgent humanitarian intervention.

This is what is happening in Syria. The Russian veto on the cross-border authorization of Bab Al-Hawa Syria has endangered the life-saving aid and food security for over 4 million people in north-west Syria, leaving them to the mercy of a ruthless regime notoriously known for its brutality.

The Russian withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative confirms a policy of weaponization of food and the use of famine as bargaining chip to achieve political gains.

But Russia didn’t stop there. With its daily bombardments of seaports targeting grain export facilities, a civilian infrastructure, Russia is committing crimes and is playing with the anxiety of millions unsure to have food in the coming days and weeks.

Moscow’s promises to several African countries for modest amounts of free grain supplies – ridiculous compared to the actual needs – are part of its efforts to capitalize on the collapse of the BSGI and gain support in the African continent. But beware – this kind of humanitarian charity will come with a bitter price tag. Without urgent action, more and more people in Africa, the Middle East and beyond will slip into hunger.

Mr. President,

The biggest challenge in every conflict is protecting civilians. It is at the same time a collective solemn commitment.

Resolution 2417 represents a breakthrough moment, since, for the first time, the Security Council acknowledged the link between armed conflict and conflict induced food insecurity and the threat of famine.

Using starvation as weapon, as a tactic of warfare, is wrong and criminal. It is prohibited by international humanitarian law, and we must never tolerate any unlawful denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians of what is indispensable to their survival.   We must never tolerate impunity for violations of international humanitarian law, targeting civilian infrastructure and food related services.

Albania commends the efforts and actions of Member States, the UN, its implementing partners, civil society, and the private sector in addressing immediate humanitarian needs, food security and resilience for populations in need.

But the best and the most effective way of preventing famine is to prevent conflict, to stop wars, to tackle the root causes of insecurity at early stages and invest in peace and development in order to secure sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food systems, in line with the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

Let me conclude, Mr. President, by saying that the world has enough food and no-one needs to go hungry.

Yet, if we really want to ensure food security, we should act to prevent and stop conflicts by choosing peace and development by engaging into including inclusive peace processes leading to sustainable political solutions, by building resilience, by working together in favour of life, with rights and dignity.

This is done by say no, strongly and resolutely, to wars and conflicts and their devastating consequences.

This requires vision, leadership, political will and decisive action.

I thank you

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