OTTAWA – Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly will travel to New York today for two days of meetings at the UN to help mobilize a global response to the food security crisis resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Joly will meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks and will participate in a United Nations Security Council open debate on the link between conflict and food security.
Earlier this week, Joly said Canada is planning to send cargo ships to ports in Romania and other European countries neighbouring Ukraine to help it export its wheat.
Russia has blockaded Ukraine’s ports, stopping exports of wheat and sunflower oil to countries that rely on them in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The UN World Food Program has warned that the conflict has not only driven up the price of grain, making it more expensive to feed the hungry, but could push nations that rely on Ukrainian wheat toward starvation.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat, with some countries, including Lebanon and Bangladesh, relying on it as a staple food.
Julie Marshall, Canadian spokeswoman for the World Food Program, said Ukraine produces enough to feed around 400 million people around the world. But millions of tons of wheat, much of it bound for developing nations, is sitting in silos and stranded on ships because of the conflict.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Yulia Kovaliv, told a committee of MPs that not only is Russia blockading Ukraine’s ports, it is stealing its grain stores and attempting to ship them to Russian-held Crimea.
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has warned that the Russians are also targeting farm machinery and equipment needed to gather and distribute Ukraine’s harvest.
During her two days in New York, Joly will participate in a Global Food Security Call to Action, hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where she will meet a number of foreign ministers from around the world to discuss the food crisis and rising price of grain.
Canada is one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters and has said it will do what it can to help with the shortfall. But Bibeau has said that Canada and the U.S. had a weak harvest last year because of a drought so stocks of grain are lower than usual.
“The Russian regime’s actions in Ukraine are being felt across the world, particularly among the most vulnerable countries,“ Joly said. ”Canada is determined to work with our allies to find real solutions to help mitigate the impacts of the food security crisis, and help ensure our future resilience.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION