UNITED NATIONS: The increasing tendency to politicize humanitarian situations is deplorable, India told the United Nations, stressing that nations must refuse to combine development aid with advances in the political process as this will only increase food insecurity in conflict situations.
At the United Nations Security Council’s open debate on “Conflict and Food Security” on Thursday, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador TS Tirumurti said there was an urgent need for the donor community to expand aid to conflict-affected countries and ensure humanitarian aid Aid organizations are given the resources they need to fully implement their plans without politicizing people’s basic needs.
“While all humanitarian action must be guided primarily by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, unfortunately we are seeing an increasing tendency to politicize humanitarian situations,” he said.
“Such a donor position will only increase food insecurity in conflict situations,” he added.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council that conflict drives hunger and famine. which in turn lead to conflict.
“If you don’t feed people, you feed conflicts,” said the UN chief. “When a country or region is ravaged by conflict and hunger, they are mutually reinforcing. They cannot be resolved separately. Hunger and poverty combine with inequality.” Climate shocks, sectarian and ethnic tensions as well as grievances over land and resources to trigger conflicts and fuel them, ”he said.
Citing the World Food Program (WFP) estimates, Tirumurti said the number of people suffering from food insecurity will more than double to 270 million people by the end of 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic making the situation worse.
The Global Food Crisis Report 2020 by the WFP and 15 other humanitarian and development agencies finds that more than 77 million people in conflict-affected countries are suffering from acute food insecurity.
He said the pandemic only helped add complexity to food insecurity by forcing countries to restrict free movement of people, thereby depriving farms of the hands to harvest the crops, resulting in loss of farm employment and undermine food access in the United States, restricted rural areas and the state’s ability to cope with the socio-economic pressures of the pandemic.
Tirumurti also noted that fragile states generally have weak capacities to design, implement and monitor food policies and programs, increasing their vulnerability in a conflict situation.
“The solution to poor food security in conflict-affected states is therefore elsewhere. Therefore, conflict-related food security issues should only be addressed by the Council in the context of certain countries where they may pose a threat to international peace and security, ”he said.
India believes that armed conflict and terrorism combined with extreme weather, crop pests, food price volatility, exclusion and economic shocks can destroy any fragile state, creating food insecurity and increasing the risk of famine, he said.
“Armed groups have repeatedly resorted to scorched earth tactics, targeting civilian infrastructures such as land, livestock and water wells, which undermine economic growth and development. The inability to control locusts, for example, can affect an entire region and even affect Tirumurti, stressed that inclusive food systems that empower marginalized people by giving them a voice in local food policy will usher in a food-safe future.
“This would enable young people and women to find paid work, give smallholders access to agricultural markets and adopt climate-friendly strategies that promote seed diversity, innovation and the spirit of self-reliance,” he said.
Tirumurti noted that civilians in conflict-affected areas need safe, unimpeded and rapid access to basic services, and humanitarian workers need safe routes to ensure their teams and emergency supplies can reach communities in need.
He cited the example of northeastern Nigeria, where thousands of people are trapped without life-saving humanitarian aid, and Yemen, where restrictions on land, sea and air routes have resulted in significant cuts in essential supplies such as food and fuel and medication.
Stressing that food security is the basic minimum that is required, particularly as the world grapples with the devastating COVID19 crisis, Tirumurti quoted Mahatma Gandhi who said, “There are people in the world who are so hungry that God can only appear to them in the form of bread ”.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India has provided food in the form of thousands of tons of wheat, rice, legumes and lentils to several countries around the world including Myanmar, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Djibouti, Eritrea, Lebanon, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe and others to strengthen their food security during troubled times, he said.
Last month India donated 2,000 tons of rice to help improve food security in Syria. A ship is currently underway from India to deliver 1000 tons of food aid each to Madagascar and the Comoros.
“We continue to strive to provide aid to all vulnerable countries to support them in their quest for food security,” said Tirumurti.