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The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the Russia-Ukraine conflict has resulted in food shortages and dramatic price increases, and he urged the international community to respond quickly and effectively to the issue.
In a statement released on Wednesday, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that the war has produced “a crisis on top of a crisis” around the world, with countries facing food shortages and dramatically increased costs for food, energy, and fertilisers.
“These constraints arise at a time when countries’ public finances are already squeezed due to the pandemic, and debt loads are high,” Georgieva explained.
“Vulnerable households in low- and middle-income nations are especially at risk of severe food insecurity,” she added, adding that hunger frequently leads to social unrest and violence.
“If we’ve learned anything from the 2007-08 food crisis, it’s that the international community needs to respond quickly and effectively to a food crisis by maintaining open trade, supporting vulnerable households, ensuring adequate agricultural supply, and addressing financing pressures,” Georgieva said.
According to the Xinhua news agency, the IMF president made the remarks as the IMF and several other international financial institutions unveiled a coordinated action plan to address food security.
Following a meeting of international financial institutions and global leaders convened by the US Treasury Department on April 19 titled “Tackling Food Insecurity: The Challenges and Call to Action,” the IMF, the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and International Fund for Agricultural Development collaborated to develop a joint action plan to address food insecurity.
Assist vulnerable people, encourage open commerce, minimize fertiliser shortages, support food production, invest in future climate-resilient agriculture, and coordinate for optimal impact, according to the recently announced strategy.
“The IMF will provide policy advice, capacity building assistance, and financial support to further catalyze and complement finance from other institutions, working closely with the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions,” Georgieva said.
The IMF’s new Resilience and Sustainability Trust, which will provide affordable longer-term financing for countries facing structural challenges, will also be put to use, according to the IMF’s chief, and the IMF will step up efforts with the World Bank and others to support debt restructurings where they are needed.