Hundreds of millions of people are "marching to starvation" after Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine unleashed the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, the head of the UN’s World Food Programme has warned.
David Beasley condemned Russia for “a declaration of war on global food security” after it blocked Ukrainian grain exports, and said that 325m people are at risk of going hungry as a result. Around 43m most in danger are already "knocking on starvation's door", he said.
Ukraine is the world's fifth-largest exporter of wheat, fourth-largest exporter of corn and top exporter of sunflower oil, with most of its crop going to poor countries in the developing world.
Mr Putin has prevented shipments from leaving Ukrainian ports, while Western officials say his army has deliberately destroyed agricultural equipment and harvest stores.
Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Beasley described the impending disaster as “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two”, with a massive wave of migration into Europe likely to follow as hunger rises.
He said: “What do you think is going to happen when you take a nation that normally grows enough food to feed 400m people and you sideline that?
“You add fuel costs, food costs, shipping costs - it is devastating.”
Meanwhile David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy, said 1.7bn people across 94 countries are at risk of severe hunger as food prices surge.
He said: “This cost-of-living crisis could lead to the worst set of economic and social challenges we’ve seen in four or five decades."