Somalia To Face Hardship From Surge In Food Prices Caused By Grain Deal Suspension - ICRC

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th August, 2023) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has told Sputnik that it expects Somalia to be significantly affected by the increase in food prices resulting from the suspension of the grain deal, as agricultural production is already extremely low in the country due to the drought and decades-long conflict.

"Somalia (is) highly reliant on grain imports, with cereal crops making up about a third of the Somali diet in calories. Close to 40% of the population are facing acute levels of food insecurity, and even small increases in prices can make it even more difficult for families to put food on the table ... The effects from the drought are still being felt and the conflict continues to displace more families. Any increase in food market prices may have a detrimental impact on displaced populations," Mutsa Mugangavari, the deputy head of the ICRC regional delegation in Southern Africa, said.

In 2023, nutrition centers supported by the ICRC treated about 900 Somalian children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, but more people arrive at the facilities each day, the deputy head of the ICRC regional delegation stated, adding that the organization's ability to respond to the food crisis in the country was hampered by a funding shortage.

On July 18, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which provided a humanitarian corridor to allow exports of Ukrainian grain over the past year, expired, as Russia did not extend its participation. Moscow said that the deal's component on facilitating Russian grain and fertilizer exports had not been fulfilled and that the largest share of Ukrainian grain exports had ended up in the European Union, and not in poor African countries, like Somalia.

Since the early 1990s, Somalia has been embroiled in a series of bloody civil conflicts that have significantly exacerbated the already catastrophic food crisis in the country caused by the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa. The World Food Programme estimates that as many as 6.5 million people in Somalia were facing acute food insecurity between April and June 2023. Moreover, a total of 1.84 million children under 5 currently face acute malnutrition in the country, and 223,000 people suffer from catastrophic levels of hunger, the organization says.