UK Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on famine.

Must read

“Russia’s gestures are inadequate. The Black Sea should be open.”

3 August 2023

Thank you, Madam President. Let me start by welcoming you and your team to the Security Council presidency and thank the US presidency for bringing the issue of food insecurity back to this Council following Security Council Resolution 2417.

I also want to thank Reena Ghelani, David Miliband and Navyn Salem, for bringing your expertise – and critically, your proposals for action to the Council since 2021.

As we’ve all heard, the number of people facing acute food insecurity has skyrocketed from 193 million to over a quarter of a billion today.

And as we’ve heard, conflict is the main driver. Last week, the Council met to discuss the UN’s warning on rapidly deteriorating food security in Haiti, DRC and Burkina Faso.

The message was clear: act now to prevent further deterioration.

So in that spirit, I want to join others in focusing on actions and propose three.

They overlap with those that have been proposed by others during the course of our debate, and in particular with those proposed by the United Nations Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator.

First, this Council should take concerted action to tackle the drivers of conflict and invest in inclusive, sustainable peace.

The Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace calls for renewed multilateral cooperation and putting women who are uniquely impacted by food insecurity at the centre of peace initiatives in Afghanistan.

If they cannot bear to watch their children die, some mothers face a harrowing choice sell their children or starve.

Congolese women in displacement camps are forced into sex work just to buy food.

Second, we call on parties to conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and to allow humanitarians rapid and unimpeded access to people in need in Sudan and Somalia.

Starving communities are surrounded by fighting and humanitarians cannot reach them with food.

International humanitarian law is our greatest defence against hunger in armed conflict, and those who violate it should be held to account.

Finally, we need to protect global food systems.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative got nearly 33 million tonnes of grain into world markets. Russia’s decision to end the initiative has raised food prices hitting the world’s hungriest people.

Russia’s offer to give 50,000 tonnes of grain to each of six countries will not bring grain prices back down, nor help those facing famine in other countries.

This inadequate gesture falls far short of solving the global problem that Russia has created.

And let’s be clear UK, US and EU sanctions do not target food and fertilizer. They target Russia’s war machine.

As South Africa’s President Ramaphosa said the Black Sea should be open.

We call on Russia to rejoin the BSGI immediately.

Madam President, we know what we need to do to stop these soaring levels of hunger.

Let’s now turn that into action. I thank you.

More articles

Latest article