I have recently been contacted by several constituents who have expressed concerns about the growing prevalence of hunger being used as a weapon of war.
Indeed, the link between conflict and hunger could not be clearer with armed conflict and violence playing a central role in denying civilians their most basic needs in countries across the globe. This has been confirmed by the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who released a report in March 2023 confirming that conflict and violence are the primary causes of hunger, malnutrition, and famine.
Conflicts around the world are only exacerbating the existing world food crisis, evidenced in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, even before the war in Ukraine, millions of people around the world were suffering from food insecurity and different forms of malnutrition. It was therefore right that, under our G7 Presidency, the UK secured the first ever famine prevention compact. I am delighted that Germany is now picking up the baton and taking this further with the Global Alliance for Food Security. As part of this Alliance, the G7 have agreed a collective commitment to provide $4.5 billion to mitigate the scale of the global food security crisis.
Of course, I recognise that there is still more to be done. Speaking at the UN Security Council, UK representatives made it clear that we can make better use of the tools we already have at our disposal, including the rules established in UN Resolutions 2417, 2286 and 2573 which are designed to give timely, evidence-based warnings when parties to conflict are blocking access, destroying indispensable civilian objects, or using starvation as a method of warfare.
In light of this, I welcome the Government has made famine prevention a priority in the 2022 UK Humanitarian Framework. The UK aims to deliver on this by pushing the international system to scan for, prepare and act ahead of shocks and to prevent them from getting worse when they happen. HMG will also work with the World Bank and the UN to strengthen the global focus on anticipating and preparing for crises and reducing humanitarian need, and will use UK expertise in the patient development of systems and institutions to strengthen the ability of countries and communities to recover from crises.
In addition to those experiencing famine, the UK recognises that a quarter of a billion people are experiencing the most acute levels of hunger caused largely by conflict. In these contexts, as well as other types of crises, the UK works closely with allies and partners to deliver life-saving assistance to people, and tackle hunger and starvation. In fact, the UK has just co-hosted a UN pledging conference for the Horn of Africa to better address the drastic impacts of drought, conflict, food insecurity and climate change, where the UK pledged £143 million to help over a million people in East Africa. This bolsters the £3 billion worth of humanitarian assistance the UK will send to the world’s most vulnerable countries, including Yemen and Afghanistan, over the next three years.
In a world of nations and borders, it can become all too easy to overlook the plight of our poorer counterparts. The United Kingdom has a longstanding history of helping those most in need and I can assure constituents the Government will continue to use its diplomatic capabilities to push the international system to act ahead of shocks and famine, draw on innovative finance and insurance mechanisms, and harness our expertise to better manage and anticipate humanitarian emergencies.