Russia-Ukraine War News: Live Updates

Credit…Eduardo Soteras / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya – The effects of the war in Ukraine have reverberated around the world, and that is especially the case in Africa, where blocking grain exports from Ukraine has sent wheat prices skyrocketing and exacerbated it. more famine.

Therefore officialsAid groups and wheat importers across Africa welcomed Friday’s agreement to lift a ban on grain exports in Ukraine, where war has led to grain shortages and rising food prices across the country. African continent.

Célestin Tawamba, chief executive officer of La Pasta, the largest noodle and flour producer in the West African nation of Cameroon, said: “The noose is tightening, so the deal will give us a breather.

The UN-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine is particularly important for 14 African countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, dependent on the two warring nations for half of their wheat imports. One country, Eritrea, was completely dependent on them.

But the deal will have limited impact in some other parts of Africa, where countries are facing internal political, economic and social crises that also contribute to increasing hunger. and high food prices, said Nazanine Moshiri, an analyst with International Crisis Group.

This is especially true for countries in East Africa, which have had their worst drought in four decades. ranch and cattle ravageddry up rivers and wells and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of children.

One civil war in Ethiopiapolitical instability in Sudanand conflict and terrorism in countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and Somalia prevented governments and humanitarian agencies from giving aid to many people in need.

In Kenya, government debt and rising inflation have contributed to higher food prices, sparking street protests and widespread anger on social media in recent weeks.

With a general election coming up on August 9, President Uhuru Kenyatta this week prohibit duties on imported corn and demanded a sharp reduction in the retail cost of cornmeal, an important staple.

During a visit to Kenya on Friday, Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, announced $255 million in emergency aid to the country.

Many African countries rely heavily on cereals such as maize, sorghum, millet and rice. But wheat consumers have increasingly preferred to buy wheat from Russia in recent years because it is less expensive than grains from other countries, according to Hugo Depoix, director of Paris-based Cerealis, a grain trader that sells to dozens of African countries. .

Some West African countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon or Ivory Coast are particularly affected by the disruption of wheat exports from Russia. Governments have frozen the price of baguettes or flour in an effort to curb soaring wheat prices, which have skyrocketed over the past two years from about $250 a tonne in summer 2020 to $530 in spring 2020. now.

The easing of inflated prices can take a long time. Mr. Tawamba, of La Pasta, estimates that there will be “two to three months at the earliest, by which time cheaper wheat will reach us”.

The agreement signed in Istanbul on Friday comes more than a month after the President of the African Union, President Macky Sall of Senegal, travel to Russia to urge President Vladimir Putin to release the much-needed grain.

The lifting of the grain export ban is welcome news, but experts say it does not address soaring fuel and fertilizer prices, which are also fueled by the Ukraine war and have affected to food security.

In West Africa, where the planting season begins in May and June for most grains, the scarcity of affordable fertilizers due to war could cost the region a quarter of its production. amount compared to last year, according to one evaluate, evaluate, evaluate by the regional political bloc, FAO and the World Food Programme.

In Somalia, where nearly half of the country’s 16 million people are facing food shortages, fertilizer prices have risen 75% since, according to Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, chief executive officer of Mercy Corps. when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

“Today’s global food disaster far exceeds the 20 million tonnes of grain trapped in Ukraine,” McKenna said in an emailed statement.

Abdi Latif Dahir reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and Elian Peltier from Dakar, Senegal.

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