Russia’s Siege on Mariupol Is Leading to Mass Starvation, UN Official Says

David Beasley is the executive director of United Nations World Food Program. sounding the alarm about people being “starved to death” in Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine surrounded by Russian troops.

On a Thursday interviewWith the Associated PressThe WFP chief for Ukraine warned that the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine would only get worse as Russian President Vladimir Putin takes office. intensifiesHis deadly attack on the Donbas region of Ukraine and beyond.

The invasion that began on February 24 is “devastating the people in Ukraine,” said Beasley, who decried aid groups’ inability to access civilians in need amid Russia’s unrelenting onslaught.

“I don’t see any of that easing up,” he said. “I just don’t see it happening right now.”

According to AP:

Beasley expressed concern about Mariupol, a port city in Ukraine where a shrinking number of Ukrainian defenders is resisting a Russian siege that has left well over 100,000 civilians without food, water or heating.

Despite the WFP’s request for access, the Russian forces controlling the city have refused to allow aid in.

“We will not give up on the people of Mariupol and other people that we cannot reach,” Beasley told the news outlet. “But it’s a devastating situation: the people being starved to death.”

Not only are there logistical challenges that humanitarian organizations face due to Russian attacks and blockades but also the diversion of Ukrainian workers fuel for the war effort makes it more difficult to deliver lifesaving aid.

“It’s not just going to be the next few days — but the next few weeks and few months could even get more complicated than it is now,” said Beasley. “In fact, it’s getting worse and worse, concentrated in certain areas, and the front lines are going to be moving.”

Putin was interviewed earlier in the week. saidRussia would shift its military offensive away from Kyiv, the capital, to the eastern Ukraine, including Mariupol. AP reported that Moscow is determined to seize the port city “so its forces from the annexed Crimean Peninsula can fully link up with troops elsewhere in the eastern Donbas region, Ukraine’s industrial heartland.”

“The fluid nature of the conflict… has made it especially difficult to reach hungry Ukrainians,” AP noted. “The WFP is trying to put food supplies now in areas that could be caught up in the fighting, but Beasley acknowledged that there are ‘a lot of complexities’ as the situation rapidly evolves.”

Despite Putin’s recent comments about limiting the geographical extent of his attack, for instance, Russia on Friday resumedIts bombardment of Kyiv.

Reiterating his warning from last month that “the bullets and bombs in Ukraine could take the global hunger crisis to levels beyond anything we’ve seen before,” Beasley said Thursday that the disastrous consequences of Russia’s war will continue to reverberate around the world.

As agricultural output from one of the world’s most productive growing regions has slowed substantially, exports have diminished and the prices of key food staples and fertilizerHave climbed to record highs.

According to AP:

Russia and Ukraine together produce 30% of the world’s wheat supply and export about three-quarters of the world’s sunflower seed oil. Ukraine is home to half of the grain WFP purchases for distribution around the globe.

Beasley said that the war has prevented export of 30 million tonnes of grain. Ukrainian farmers are struggling to access fertilizer and seed, and those who can plant may see their harvest rot in the fields if the war drags on and there’s no way to ship it, he warned.

He said that shipping problems have forced the WFP a half-off of rations for millions of people in Africa. More cuts may be necessary.

As Common Dreams has reported, Russia’s war on Ukraine is exacerbatingExtreme poverty and undernourishment affect tens of thousands of people in the Global South, which includes the Global South. occupied Palestinian territoriesThere are many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and in certain parts of East Africa.

The situation is especially dire for drought-stricken or war-torn countries such as Yemen — where the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led military assault has entered its eighth year — and Afghanistan, whose central banks reserves have been seizedby the Biden administration.

Fertilizer shortages are already a problem in Latin America hurtingPoor Peruvians contributing to unrestthereby putting into doubt the political future of President Pedro Castillo, a leftist politician.

“People are going to be starving to death,” Beasley said, adding that hunger intensified by the conflict in Ukraine could prompt “mass migration beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II.”