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UK ‘sleep-walking into existential crisis’ as Ukraine invasion hits food supplies, warns UUP’s Steve Aiken

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Food prices are already at near-record highs. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Food prices are already at near-record highs. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Food prices are already at near-record highs. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

An Ulster Unionist Party MLA has written to Boris Johnson calling for a UK-wide summit amid UN warnings of food supply shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Steve Aiken penned the letter to the Prime Minister calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to “prepare for what may lie ahead”.

The stark message comes following the publication of a new report last week by the UN’s Global Crisis Response Group, suggesting the war – alongside other issues such as the pandemic and climate change – are “threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution” across the globe.

In his message to the audience in New York last Wednesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the conflict in Ukraine is impacting on “food security, energy and finance”.

While there are warnings over the supply of grain into developing parts of Africa, Mr Guterres suggested “no country or community will be left untouched by this cost-of-living crisis”.

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“In reality, there is only one way to stop this gathering storm in its tracks: the Russian invasion of Ukraine must end,” the Secretary-General added.

“Ukraine’s food production, and the food and fertilizer produced by Russia, must be brought back into world markets – despite the war.”

In response to the warning, Mr Aiken called on Boris Johnson to act and suggested the UK is in danger of “sleep-walking into an existential crisis”.

“Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea has greatly inhibited Ukraine grain exports and this is a major problem because Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil,” said Mr Aiken.

“The grain shortage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine coupled with disastrous droughts in parts of the world and steep rises in energy costs will all have downstream consequences and we in the UK will not be immune.

“Everyone should take notice of the warning earlier this week from the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“The UN Secretary General also pointed out that food prices are at near-record highs. Fertilizer prices have more than doubled, sounding an alarm everywhere.

“Without fertilizers, shortages will spread from corn to wheat to all staple crops, including rice, with a devastating impact on billions of people in Asia and South America too.

“It is vital that the UK Government acts swiftly and that is why I have written to the Prime Minister to urge him to convene a summit involving the UK Government and all the devolved administrations to help us prepare for what may lie ahead.”


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