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The conflict in Ukraine is causing a hunger crisis for thousands of innocent people.

Ukraine Crisis: Hunger Knows No Ceasefire

Displaced families, affected by months of conflict in Luhansk and Donetsk, receive assistance from WFP. Photo copyright: ADRA
Displaced families, affected by months of conflict in Luhansk and Donetsk, receive assistance from WFP. Photo courtesy WFP/ADRA

The conflict in Ukraine is causing a hunger crisis for thousands of innocent people. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said Friday that it is now distributing emergency rations in Donetsk and Luhansk in East Ukraine.

The fighting between the government and pro-Russian rebels has displaced 260,000 people according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. A ceasefire is currently in place in East Ukraine, but is considered fragile.

While the guns are thankfully silent, hunger continues to grow. Significant damage has been done to the country’s food systems.

This is the first time WFP has ever operated in Ukraine. The plea for help came directly from Ukraine’s government to the UN food agency. Carlo Scaramella, WFP Deputy Regional Director, explains: “The fighting in the last few months primarily in the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk and surrounding areas has significantly disrupted access to food and basic services. While many have remained, thousand of other families have fled their homes at short notice, often without anything even for the journey.”

So far about 2,000 people have received ready-to-eat foods like canned meat, fish and vegetables. This number will quickly escalate. WFP plans to feed 18,000 Ukrainians by the end of September.

WFP says recent fighting in Novoazovsk and Mariupol is increasing the need for food assistance.  The total number of people in need of food aid may reach as high as 120,000 over the coming months. The success of the ceasefire and peace negotiations will ultimately determine the extent and duration of this new hunger crisis in Ukraine.

Vouchers will be given to some of the displaced families. This will allow food to be purchased in markets and help boost the local economy.

The cost of the WFP Ukraine relief mission is at least $15 million. Getting those funds may prove difficult. WFP, which relies entirely on voluntary donations, is under great strain financing its global operations.

The UN food agency is also leading hunger relief missions in war-torn Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and many other regions. The international community will need to step up to ensure there is enough aid for these countries as well as Ukraine.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.

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