The head of the UN World Food Programme called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to reopen ports in Ukraine to prevent children around the world from starving.
Speaking to CNN’s Julia Chatterley at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, David Beasley called on the Russian leader to “have a heart.”
The growing food crisis has been a major issue at the forum, with Beasley being one of the leading voices calling for action. He warned that the Ukraine war has meant that “the breadbasket of the world was becoming the bread line of the world.”
Some background: Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost 30% of global trade, and Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and the fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department.
Beasley said that 325 million people around the world are facing starvation, with 49 million people in 43 countries now “knocking on famine’s door.”
“The world is facing a food security crisis. It is immediate and long term. If we are struggling now to feed 7.7 billion, what is going to happen when we have 10, 12, 13 billion? That is on top of climate impact. It’s going to be resonating around the world,” he added.
He also said that renewed focus on the food crisis was a good thing, with world leaders recognizing the size of the problem, with solutions to solve issues.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier today accused Putin of “weaponizing” food supplies in his invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army is confiscating grain suppliers and machinery in areas of Ukraine and blocking exports from ports in the Black Sea, von der Leyen said.