Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has deadly consequences for children in far-flung parts of the world. Because fewer crops are being harvested and supply chains are disrupted, the price of essential supplemental food is rising.
According to UNICEF, the Ukraine war is exacerbating the problem of severe malnutrition among children around the world. According to the UNICEF report “Severe Acute Malnutrition: A Deadly Danger for Children” published on Tuesday, more than a million children are already dying as a result every year. But now significantly more children could die.
50 countries rely on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine
“The war in Ukraine also has serious consequences for children who live far away from the war zone, for example in Somalia or Yemen or Afghanistan,” said Rudi Tarneden, spokesman for Unicef Germany, the German Press Agency in Cologne. “Their families can no longer afford the rising cost of food, the children get less and worse food to eat. The global supply chain has been partially interrupted by the war, and aid deliveries are not coming.”
Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Bangladesh import large parts of their wheat from Russia and the Ukraine – according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), around 50 countries depend on imports from there. According to UNICEF, Somalia gets 90 percent of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and Yemen 40 percent. But with the Russian attack on Ukraine, wheat, along with numerous other raw materials, has become much more expensive on the world market.
According to UNICEF estimates, around 45 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished worldwide. 13.6 million were so badly affected that their lives were hanging by a thread. The cause is a lack of nutrient-rich foods and vitamins, protein and vital trace elements.
According to the Unicef report, most of these children live in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria. You could help them with a simple additional food, namely a paste made from peanuts, oil, sugar and milk powder, which can also be stored for a long time without refrigeration. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, claims to be the world’s main supplier of such peanut paste.
Rising cost of supplementary food
However, Unicef estimates that the cost of this additional food will rise by up to 16 percent over the next six months as the prices of key ingredients skyrocket. This could prevent an additional 600,000 children a year from accessing life-saving treatment. At least ten million children worldwide are already not receiving the additional food they urgently need to survive.
“A 16 percent price hike may sound manageable in the context of global food markets,” said Catherine Russell, Unicef Executive Director. “But at the end of the supply chain is the desperation of a malnourished child.” Severe, acute malnutrition turns common childhood illnesses into deadly dangers. The emaciated bodies of the children are so weak that they cannot counteract viruses, bacteria or fungi. Her death usually goes unnoticed because it is not part of a major famine or a sensational conflict, but is part of the sad normality in many countries. “A silent tragedy,” writes Unicef. In this situation, government funding cuts also endangered vital aid. “The international community must now do everything possible to prevent a vicious circle from starting,” demands UNICEF spokesman Tarneden. “To do this, governments must work together to continue to ensure access to food and medical care for the poorest. Special foods such as peanut paste to treat severely malnourished children must be available in good time.”