Getting existing grains and foodstuffs from Ukraine to world markets as quickly as possible will help alleviate crippling food shortages in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Much, however, depends on how quickly and effectively the landmark agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, is implemented over the next 120 days.
To achieve the desired results, other ships stranded in Ukrainian Black Sea ports must be allowed to pass safely and requests for new ships to pick up grain must be dealt with quickly.
Above all, Russia must keep its promise not to attack merchant ships and other civilian ships and port facilities covered by the agreement.
Let’s face it, however.
Addressing the global food and humanitarian emergency will require more funds, more political will and tougher geopolitical trade-offs, not just a valuable breakthrough.
Fueled by the pandemic, climate change and a myriad of conflicts, global humanitarian needs were already at an all-time high before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Today, war-induced spikes in food, fuel and fertilizer prices threaten to plunge countries around the world into starvation, leading to “global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. according to the World Food Programme.
The agency warned that a record 345 million acutely hungry people are “walking the brink of starvation”, representing a 25% increase from 276 million at the start of 2022.
hide and seek
Yet international donors are playing hide and seek. The gap between available funds and humanitarian needs reaches an all-time high of $36.9 billion [€36.3]. To date, the donor community has funded only 20% of global humanitarian needs.
Indeed, despite urgent fundraising campaigns for countries on the brink of disaster, global attention, resources and expertise are being diverted to Ukraine.
The UN appeal for Ukraine is over 80% funded for this year. This contrasts with around 38% for Afghanistan, 27% for Yemen and around 20% for Sudan.
Instead of stepping up their assistance programs, wealthier countries are cutting aid abroad or reallocating funds from other parts of the world to the Ukraine crisis, says Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Britain’s international development programs are set to be cut for the third time in three years as the government suspends “non-essential” aid spending, a change attributed to rising Home Office costs for refugees.
Sweden, Denmark and Norway, all major aid actors, devote a significant part of their aid budget to hosting Ukrainian refugees. Many of these cuts will result in an international rollback on earlier comments made to help other nations, including Afghanistan.
Gulf States and China
Meanwhile, other donors, including oil-rich Gulf states, are not stepping in while China, a major source of funds for many developing countries, is largely acting outside the rules of the EU. globally agreed humanitarian aid.
Which emphasizes the EU – both as the main donor of international humanitarian aid and as a catalyst for encouraging others – including many of its own underperforming “Team Europe” members – to improve their Game.
As illustrated by the macro-financial assistance of €1 billion just announced, under the emergency MFA program of up to €9 billion agreed last June, the EU continues to be fast and furious in helping Ukraine.
EU humanitarian aid to other countries has also increased, reaching €2.2 billion last year, up from the originally planned €1.5 billion. Given current trends, spending this year will certainly be higher.
As in the past, the additional amounts needed for humanitarian action in 2022 will probably be guaranteed by intra-Commission financial transfers, a system which seems to work, despite its complexity.
However, the European Parliament rightly insists that in order to deal with the growing number of humanitarian crises, the EU needs a “solid annual budget” which ensures that its humanitarian aid is timely, predictable and flexible at the start of each fiscal year.
This means a decision on establishing a more realistic humanitarian budget for 2023 and an increase in humanitarian spending during next year’s mid-term review of the multi-annual financial framework.
Policy makers can rejoice that humanitarian aid is in fact popular at home, with more than 80% of Europeans saying they feel “pride, enthusiasm or satisfaction” about the international humanitarian role of the EU. EU.
Public opinion can be volatile, however, and it will not be easy to make such decisions at a time of increased pressure on EU financial resources.
In the face of slowing economic growth, rising inflation, and rising fuel prices and the cost of living at home, EU governments are likely to look for ways to cut foreign spending, and not to increase them.
However, there should be no turning back. The EU must live up to its commitments to global solidarity, not only because it is morally correct to do so, but because humanitarian aid is central to Europe’s geopolitical profile and ambitions.
This is why there must be no renunciation of EU financial assistance and solidarity for Ukraine and Ukrainians — and why the humanitarian crisis elsewhere must not be forgotten.