Richard Ginika Izuora
The United Nations, UN, has sent a warning that more nations may witness unrest as soaring food and energy prices have pushed more than 71 million people worldwide into poverty since late February when Russia launched its war on Ukraine.
The report by the UN Development Program, also warned of the danger of social unrest in some places due to the economic turmoil
Achim Steiner, the administrator of the agency, said an analysis of 159 developing countries showed that spiking commodity prices this year was slamming parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Balkans, Asia, and elsewhere.
“This cost-of-living crisis is tipping millions of people into poverty and even starvation at breathtaking speed,” he said in a statement accompanying the report. “With that, the threat of increased social unrest grows by the day.”
Ukraine is a major grain producer and exporter, and its food shipments are critical to many countries in the Middle East and Africa. But its Black Sea ports have been blockaded by Russian forces, driving up food prices, and pushing tens of millions into poverty.
Russia and Ukraine combined accounted for almost one-quarter of global wheat exports and more than half of sunflower oil exports.
Energy prices have also shot up amid uncertainty over the war, but also as Russia has cut back on some oil and gas exports. Before the war, Russia was the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and the second-biggest exporter of crude oil.
Western sanctions on Russia, to punish Moscow for the Ukraine invasion, have also exacerbated inflationary pressures.
Some of the countries hardest hit by inflation, according to the UN agency, include Haiti, Argentina, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, the Philippines, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan.
In countries like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Yemen, the impacts of inflation are even harder for those already at the lowest poverty line.
The total number of people living in poverty, or who are vulnerable to poverty, stands at over 5 billion, or just under 70 percent of the world’s population, according to the UNDP.