The head of the United Nations World Food Programme says that the war in Ukraine will cause shockwaves in Africa and the Middle East and spark a mass migration crisis unless Western leaders step up to prepare for food and resource shortages.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has caused a significant impact on the availability of wheat, fertilizer, and other key agricultural resources due to the fact that together, both countries contribute roughly 25% of global wheat exports. The disruption of those exports is driving up food costs worldwide.
Speaking to Politico, David Beasley, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme said that funding for the organization had reached a critical point.
“We’re billions short," said Beasley. "Failure to provide this year a few extra billion dollars means you’re going to have famine, destabilization and mass migration.”
“If you think we’ve got hell on earth now, you just get ready,” Beasley warned. "If we neglect northern Africa, northern Africa’s coming to Europe. If we neglect the Middle East, [the] Middle East is coming to Europe."
The U.N. official said the economic conditions in these affected regions are much worse than they were in the run-up to the Arab Spring a decade ago. And this time around, it won’t just be populations of Middle Eastern and North African countries that will suffer the brunt of the impending economic and food crisis.
Beasley said that the World Food Programme is already struggling to feed people further south in the Sahel countries, including Niger and Burkina Faso, where problems will worsen if food prices continue to surge.
“I’ve been warning our developed nations for several years now that the Sahel is going to collapse if we’re not careful,” he said.
Beasley is currently in Brussels, where he is holding discussions with European Union commissioners to draw plans for the impending crisis. He suggested that the EU’s failure to act will be felt not just by those in Africa, but especially those in Europe, who will face a mass migration crisis.
“What do you think is going to happen in Paris and Chicago and Brussels when there’s not enough food?” Beasley said at a European Union humanitarian conference. “It’s easy to sit on your high horse in your ivory tower when you’re not the one starving.”