Palestine’s Wheat Reserves Could Soon Run Out Amid Ukraine War, Oxfam Warns

Oxfam, a humanitarian group International warned Monday that wheat flour reserves in the occupied Palestinian territories could run out within the next three weeks as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues, pushing prices to all-time highs and throwing the global grain market into chaos.

Prior to the war, Russia and Ukraine together supplied nearly 30% of the world’s wheat, with a large portion of its exports going to the Middle East.

According to Oxfam, the Palestinian Authority, which controls a portion of the Israeli-occupied West Bank region, imports approximately 95% of its wheat. Israel, which frequently throttles the occupied territories’ trading and restricts their agricultural development, imports half of its grain and cereals from Ukraine.

If Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, Oxfam noted, experts believe the Palestinian territories’ diminishing wheat stocks could be exhausted in two to three weeks.

“Palestinian households are being hit hard by rising global food prices, and many are struggling to meet their basic needs,” said Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s country director in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. “The reliance on imports and the constraints forced upon them by Israel’s continuing military occupation, settler violence, and land grabs are compounding the food crisis.”

Oxfam reported that food security in the Palestinian territories has increased to 31.2% and that approximately 2.1 million people will need humanitarian assistance this year.

To prevent the hunger crisis in the territories from intensifying, Oxfam called on the international community to “urgently adopt a common and coordinated economic and diplomatic position that challenges Israel’s restrictive policies and allows Palestinians to invest in local food production and infrastructure.”

“Every day we meet people who are searching for jobs and money just to feed their children. We feel very stuck at this stage,” Najla Shawa, Oxfam’s head of food security in Gaza, said in a statement Monday. “How can we draw attention from the international community to the deteriorating socio-economic situation in Gaza?”

“Our work in Gaza is becoming increasingly challenging,” Shawa added. “It is difficult to describe the true level of damage that all this is causing on people’s lives — it is devastating.”

Last week, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO). said The rising cost of cereals, vegetable oils and other food products caused record-breaking global food prices in March. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil.

Price increases and war-induced supply chain disruptions millions of Yemenis are at risk from the consequences of years of conflict, including their food supply.

The World Food Programme purchases half its grain from Ukraine. noted in March that “imports from Ukraine account for 31% of the wheat arriving in Yemen in the past three months — prices are suddenly seven times higher than they were in 2015.”