UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that “a sword of Damocles hangs over the global economy” because of the ongoing war in Ukraine, adding that developing countries were most at risk.
Calling the war “an assault on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries”, Guterres on Monday drew a dismal picture of the global situation.
“Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing. Supply chains are being disrupted. And the costs and delays of transportation of imported goods when available are at record levels.
“The FAO’s (Food and Agriculture Organisation’s) global food prices index is at its highest level ever,” the UN chief said, adding that and all these could portend political instability and unrest around the world.
The index that measures changes in the international prices of a basket of food commodities hit 140.7 in February, an all-time high in real terms since 1961.
Gutteres also announced the formation of a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat to deal with these threats.
“We will be consulting with Member States willing to champion the actions needed to carry forward the global emergency response that will be required for these looming crises.
“This war goes far beyond Ukraine” hitting the recovery from the two-year onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Even before the conflict, developing countries were struggling to recover from the pandemic with record inflation, rising interest rates and looming debt burdens (and) their ability to respond has been erased by exponential increases in the cost of financing.
“Now their breadbasket is being bombed. Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 per cent of the world’s wheat,” he added.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed @arulouis)