Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib delivered, on May 18, Lebanon’s statement during the ministerial meeting on Global Food Security Call to Action, held at the UN headquarters in New York, and presided by by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

“We meet today at a very critical time for humanity, as millions of people around the world are struggling to put food on the table. So we thank you for convening this timely and important ministerial meeting on Global Food Security Call to Action,” said Bou Habib.

He continued: “Needless to say, the situation is dire: 276 million people are facing acute food insecurity.

48.9 million people are on the edge of famine. These numbers are terrifying and keep worsening by the day. Food prices are skyrocketing, and it reached its highest level ever in March 2022.”

He added: “This comes at a time where the world is already facing multi-faceted crises, from COVID 19 pandemic, to climate change, to conflicts and wars. These multiple challenges have hit the developing world the hardest, and added an extra layer of hardship to them, with many developing countries at high risk or already in debt distress.”

“In many parts of the world, food insecurity reversed years of progress in achieving the sustainable development goals, aggravated humanitarian needs, and triggered social unrest,” he went on to say.

“Unfortunately, my country is no exception to what I just described,” he noted. He said: ” Lebanon, already coping with unprecedented challenges, has been acutely affected by food insecurity. According to the World Food Program, food prices in Lebanon have risen by 1,000% overall since the start of Lebanon’s economic crisis, and inflation reached 215% in February of 2022. In the midst of this gloomy reality, the repercussions of the current conflict in Europe, coupled with the destruction of Lebanon’s largest grain silos in August 2020 as a result of the tragic Beirut Port explosion, have only worsened the situation. “In fact,” he explained, “the extensive damage to the Port of Beirut restricted the flow of food supplies and pushed food prices beyond the reach of many. The conflict in Europe has also added new challenges to Lebanon’s dire situation, especially that Lebanon tops the list of countries most dependent on Ukrainian wheat.” “Lebanon’s monthly demand for wheat is about 50,000 tons, and Lebanon relies on imports for nearly 85% of its total food needs. The government has undertaken some concrete measures to help alleviate this problem: We are taking steps to help increase local production and we are working on securing agreements with several countries to import wheat at reasonable prices,” he indicated.

Bou Habib continued: “Beyond national measures, we all know that this global crisis demands a global solution. We must not only sound the alarm of global food insecurity today, but we must act promptly, resolutely and collectively. To this end, we have joined the “Roadmap for Global Food Security–Call to Action” and we thank you for this initiative.”

“We reiterate our support to the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.”

“It is also with this conviction, Mr. Chair, that Lebanon initiated a draft resolution entitled “State of global food insecurity” to be adopted by the General Assembly next week. And I would like to thank the United States of America for being part of the core group along 20 other States. The text of the resolution has gained, as of today, the co-sponsorship of more than 80 member states, and it is focused and action oriented. Again, we seize this opportunity to invite you all to co-sponsor the text and show that we, as an international community, are united to address food insecurity and fight hunger around the world,” he added.

“This organization was created for moments like these, when we should all get together and work in the spirit of multilateralism, cooperation and solidarity to face the important challenges of our world today,” he concluded.

Source: National News Agency – Lebanon