To News and Stories

One in five Ukrainian families face food insecurity due to Russia’s invasion

The closer someone lives to the hostilities, the more critical the situation is. Over 900,000 citizens living within 30 kilometers of the frontline have the most acute food needs.

Charred Ukrainian wheat on the fields between the frontline Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
Photo: Dmytro Smolienko / Reuters

“Ukrainians are being cut off from accessing markets to buy food, and farmers are reporting that they can no longer produce enough food — a situation that has a dramatic impact inside and outside of Ukraine,” said Matthew Hollingworth, World Food Programme (WFP) Ukraine Country Director.

Hollingworth added that the Russian military aggression is driving food insecurity inside the country, which only worsens in the winter.

Volunteers brought humanitarian aid to the local citizens in the town of Chasiv Yar,
located a few kilometers from the frontline on the Bakhmut axis. July 16, 2023.
Photo: Jose Colon / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Currently, Ukrainians face barriers to accessing food in 80 percent of settlements close to the frontline. The WFP has developed a humanitarian initiative to help those Ukrainians in need. For instance, about 750,000 struggling people will receive food baskets throughout the winter. Another 1,5 million Ukrainian citizens with broader needs will receive cash assistance.

“The irony is that in one of the world’s most formidable breadbaskets, there are hundreds of thousands of people living in proximity to the hostilities that now depend on humanitarian food assistance,” emphasized the World Food Programme (WFP) Ukraine Country Director.

According to Hollingworth, approximately 174,000 square kilometers, roughly 30 percent of Ukraine’s territory, are potentially contaminated by remnants of war, of which 25,000 square kilometers are agricultural land.

The sun’s rays break through a metal sarcophagus with holes from shells
in a bombed-out grain warehouse near the frontline in Zaporizhzhia.
Local farmers have been planting fields and harvesting
despite the constant Russian shellings of this region. September 7, 2023.
Photo: Pierre Crom / Getty Images

Since mid-July, after Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the aggressor country carried out 31 attacks targeting Ukrainian facilities crucial to grain production and export. According to the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), twenty-eight of Russian attacks were in the Odesa region alone, the home of the vital Black Sea and Danube River ports, which are essential for global trade. In total, Ukraine has already experienced $40,2 billion in losses to its agricultural sector due to Russia’s full-scale invasion.

“If attacks on such food infrastructure and the blockage of sea export routes continue, it will dramatically impact the agricultural production outlook over years to come, and may, in the worst-case scenario, lead to wheat production being unable to meet domestic and export demand,” stressed the World Food Programme (WFP) Ukraine Country Director.

Hollingworth also stressed the need to ensure that Ukraine, as an agricultural powerhouse, “can and is put quickly back on its feet”, being able to feed the world’s hungry.