"At the same time, we see that Russia cynically continues to use hunger as a weapon, blocking Ukrainian seaports, destroying agricultural infrastructure, and contaminating agricultural lands with mines," Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, told Ukrinform in a comment.
According to him, in countries where conflicts have been going on for many years – Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria – "the main thing to protect children is to solve the problem of hunger".
In particular, 43,000 people, half of them children, died of hunger in Somalia last year as a result of the drought. Another 18,000 may die within six months if appropriate international aid is not provided. In total, about 1.8 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition in this country.
In Yemen, 2.2 million children are severely malnourished, and over 540,000 are starving. In total, during the conflict, which has been ongoing since 2015, more than 11,000 children have been killed or maimed there.
More than 35,000 children have been killed and maimed in Afghanistan during the conflict that has been ongoing since 2001. After the Taliban seized power in August 2021, the situation of children worsened significantly. Today, according to UNICEF estimates, 100% of children in the country, numbering almost 13 million, need humanitarian assistance. At the same time, hunger is the cause of 45% of child deaths. 212 children die there every day due to the unavailability of basic medical care.
"I cited these terrible numbers in order to show the critical importance of the grain initiative which is actively championed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres," Kyslytsya explained.
As reported, on May 17, the "grain agreement" was extended for two months, until July 18. However, Russia said last week that if its demands for increased grain and fertilizer exports were not met, it would not extend the deal further. Moscow made the same threat in March.