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Don’t use wheat as a weapon of war, pleads Pope

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Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 06/01/22

The war is making a bad situation much, much worse.

As the war in Ukraine has created a shortage of wheat and the threat of a food crisis looms over the world, Pope Francis called for all forces to come together to “resolve this issue and to guarantee the universal human right to food.”

The Pope made this appeal at the end of the general audience of June 1, 2022.

The Economist explained the gravity of the situation:

Russia and Ukraine supply 28% of globally traded wheat, 29% of the barley, 15% of the maize and 75% of the sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400m people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odessa.

The war comes on the heals of the food insecurity already caused by the pandemic, and the situation is further exacerbated by the fact that other suppliers, such as India, China, and the midwest of America, are facing shortages because of climate issues — rains at the wrong time or a lack of rain, or extreme temperatures.

On May 16, a statement from the Ukrainian parliament accused Russia of blocking ports and looting thousands of tons of wheat. “Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is the sole cause of the global food crisis,” it said.

Millions of people’s lives

All this led the Pope to make his heartfelt appeal today: “Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war!”

This is what he said:

The blocking of grain exports from Ukraine, on which the lives of millions of people depend, especially in the poorest countries, is of great concern. I make a heartfelt appeal that every effort be made to resolve this issue and to guarantee the universal human right to food. Please do not use wheat, a staple food, as a weapon of war!

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