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90m people across eastern Africa suffering extreme hunger as Ukraine war rages on, ongoing drought

Newshub logo Newshub 23/06/2022 Lisette Reymer
Four hundred million people rely on Ukraine's grain, known as the 'world's bread basket'. © Video - Newshub ; Image - Newshub Four hundred million people rely on Ukraine's grain, known as the 'world's bread basket'.

According to the World Food Programme, almost 90 million people across eastern Africa are now experiencing extreme hunger.

That figure has nearly doubled since this time last year as a result of the war in Ukraine and ongoing drought. 

That's because Ukraine is one of the top suppliers to the UN World Food Programme, which aids some of the world's most food-insecure populations.

Four hundred million people rely on Ukraine, known as the 'world's bread basket', and there was a time when Ukraine was the biggest grain exporter in the world. 

90m people across eastern Africa suffering extreme hunger as Ukraine war rages on, ongoing drought
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That time was pre-war when harvesting crops didn’t mean risking being hit by shelling or unexploded ammunition. 

In normal times, wheat fields would feed 400 million people, but instead, millions of acres of wheat and barley are stuck in storage. 

The war is bankrupting farmers and thousands of kilometres away and it’s starving children. The horn of Africa is no stranger to drought, but a historic humanitarian crisis is unfolding there now.

The conflict has cut off the export of life-saving grain supplies that would usually be sent to places like Turkana in Kenya. 

A hospital for sick and malnourished children is full, 10 children a day are being admitted, and that's up tenfold in five months. 

In a very small village, they sing a prayer for rain, but Russian President Vladimir Putin could also offer instant relief by allowing access to Ukraine’s biggest port, Odesa. 

"You can shift it by rail or road, but it’ll take a long time. If you think they have 20 million tonnes, a truck is about 20 tonnes, you’re talking about a million trucks," said UN World Food Programme's Mathew Dee.

And even then, driving across Ukraine is too risky. 

"It's very dangerous, no one wants to go to our region. By truck, there is a big problem for drivers," said Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim. 

The desperation of the Ukrainian people, spreading across the world, and 18 million people in Africa, now also paying the price of Putin's war. 

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