Ukraine war threatens food supplies in fragile Arab world


“For the millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Yemenis, Syrians, and others who live in countries experiencing conflict, catastrophic economic meltdowns, and increasing humanitarian needs, this would be equivalent to shutting down critical life support,” states an analysis released by Carnegie Middle East experts last week.

In Syria, 14.6 million people will depend on assistance this year, 9% more than in 2021 and 32% more than in 2020, Joyce Msuya, the United Nations’ assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, told the U.N. Security Council in February.

In Yemen, basic needs are becoming even harder to meet for millions of impoverished people after seven years of war. A recent report by the U.N. and international aid groups estimated that more than 160,000 people in Yemen were likely to experience famine-like conditions in 2022. That number could climb much higher still because of the war in Ukraine. A U.N. appeal for the country earlier this month raised $1.3 billion, less than a third of what was sought.

“I have nothing,” said Ghalib al-Najjar, a 48-year-old Yemeni father of seven whose family has lived in a refugee camp outside the rebel-held capital of Sanaa since fleeing fighting in their middle-class neighborhood more than four years ago. “I need flour, a package of flour. I need rice. I need sugar. I need what people need (to survive).”

In Lebanon, which has been in the throes of economic collapse for the past two years, panic has set in among a population worn down by shortages of electricity, medicine and gasoline.


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