Russia's unprovoked and continuous invasion of Ukraine has reportedly led to another kind of war in Africa: starvation.
Human Rights Watch revealed on Thursday that a worsening food security crisis is now felt in many African countries due to the Russian-Ukraine conflict. Russia and Ukraine are said to be the source of a significant percentage of fertilizer, vegetable oil, and wheat imports from many countries in Africa.
HRW said the Russian invasion has disrupted global commodity markets and Africa's trade flows, spiking further the prices of food in the continent. The organization said other countries are also indirectly affected by higher world prices of the said key commodities though they import little from the two countries.
In line with the new crisis, HRW has urged governments and donors to ensure food access in Africa would be affordable through increased emergency and economic assistance, as well as, efforts on social protection. Doing so would prevent millions of Africans from hunger.
"Many countries in Africa were already in a food crisis. Rising prices are compounding the plight of millions of people thrown into poverty by the Covid-19 pandemic, requiring urgent action by governments and the international community," Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher On Poverty And Inequality Lea Simet said in a statement.
Previously, Christianity Daily reported that a global food crisis may result from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This is based on projections made by Bread for the World President and Chief Executive Officer Rev. Eugene Cho and by the United Nations World Food Program. The latter has recently provided 14,600 farming families in Ukraine with 740 tonnes of the urgently-needed seedlings as agricultural relief from the disruption brought by Russia's invasion.
Cho stressed that 29% of the world's wheat exports come primarily from Russia and secondarily from Ukraine. HRW said the two countries are also the top exporters of maize, barley, and sunflowers in the world. The war would obviously have a domino effect on the increasing prices of products from related industries and, as a whole, disrupt the global food system.
Nigeria receives 25% of its wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine. While Cameroon, Tanzia, Uganda, and Sudan import more than 40% of wheat from the two countries.
Human Rights Watch highlighted that before the Russian invasion, the African countries of Kenya, Angola, Nigeria, and Cameroon have been struggling with high food prices due to calamities brought by extreme climates such as landslides, floods, droughts, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The prices of food commodities have skyrocketed anew since the Russian invasion began.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there is a 12.6% increase in the Food Price Index in the span of one month from February to March. This index is said to be the highest recorded since the 1990s.
"Human Rights Watch research on the food situation in Cameroon, Kenya, and Nigeria confirms that the rising food prices exacerbated by the war severely affect people's livelihoods and food security in many African countries, especially where adequate social protection is lacking," the organization said.