The United Nations chief Antonio Guterres attends a meeting. File photo
The Russian war on Ukraine is holding "a sword of Damocles" over the global economy, the UN Secretary-General said, adding that especially poor developing countries face skyrocketing food, fuel and fertiliser prices and are now seeing their breadbasket "being bombed."
Russia and Ukraine account for more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 per cent of the world’s wheat," he said, adding that "grain prices have already exceeded those at the start of the Arab Spring and the food riots of 2007-2008."
At least 45 African and least developed countries like Egypt, Congo, Burkina Faso, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen import one-third of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and 18 of them import at least 50%.
Guterres warned: "All of this is hitting the poorest the hardest and planting the seeds for political instability and unrest around the globe.”
Thirty-six countries rely on Russia and Ukraine for more than half their wheat imports, including some of the world’s poorest countries, he said, and wheat and corn prices have risen 30% just since the start of the year.
Guterres will head to Moscow on Tuesday and meet Putin as well as having a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Eri Kaneko, Guterres' associate spokesperson, told a news briefing in New York on Friday.
UN spokesman said the Russian leader and UN chief discussed "proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones, namely in relation to the situation in Mariupol.”
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