Statement at UNSC open debate on famine and conflict-induced global food security

Statement of the Republic of Estonia at UNSC open debate on famine and conflict-induced global food security

Delivered by Ms Kristel Lõuk, Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Estonia

3 August 2023


Madame/Mister President,

Thank you for convening this important open debate. I thank the briefers for your valuable input. Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

Global food security has continued to worsen over the recent years. According to the UN, 258 million people in 58 countries faced acute food insecurity in 2022 due to climate change, armed conflicts and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The World Food Programme estimates that this number has continued to grow this year.

Implementation of the resolution 2417 remains highly relevant, as 70% of the world’s hungry people live in areas afflicted by war and violence. The DRC, Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria are just some of the places facing famine due to armed conflicts. Hunger tends to create vicious cycles that lead to new conflicts and hinder any possible progress.

Madame/Mister President,

In this context, it is shameful that a key UN facilitated initiative to improve global food security, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was unilaterally abandoned by a Permanent Member of this Council. Russia’s selfish and cynical decision to weaponize food by terminating the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is a catastrophic loss to people in need everywhere. The initiative kept global food prices stable and enabled 33 million tonnes of Ukrainian wheat to reach 45 countries across the globe, with 65% of exports going to developing countries.

As the world is thinking of ways to continue Ukrainian food exports, Russia has further escalated its war against food by bombing Ukrainian granaries and food export facilities. Just yesterday it bombed the Izmail port on the river Danube, destroying 40 000 tonnes of grain destined to countries in Africa, China and Israel and increasing global wheat prices by 4%. Furthermore, Russia has attacked Ukrainian energy infrastructure which powers the agricultural sector and threatens all vessels heading to and from Ukrainian ports. Recent decision by Russia to offer a small amount of free grain to six African Member States is yet another attempt by Russia to create a false illusion of its capabilities to replace Ukrainian grain. As the UN Secretary-General stated – handful donations to some countries do not correct the dramatic impact which will be felt by everybody.

Estonia supports the UN in trying to salvage the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had been a functioning solution to a problem Russia itself created by invading Ukraine. We call upon Russia to stop its war against Ukraine.

Madame/Mister President,

Estonia is committed to help the regions in most desperate need. We have contributed additional humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa and Yemen this year and our regular contributions to World Food Program, OCHA, CERF, UNICEF and UNHCR help to respond to the humanitarian crises globally. Let me also remind you of the EU Solidarity Lanes initiative, which has helped to export 41 million tonnes of food from Ukraine.

In conclusion, global community must do better and hold those actors accountable who are using starvation as a method of warfare and violate the International Humanitarian Law. Estonia remains a committed partner to the UN in tackling global hunger and addressing its root causes.

Thank you.