CHRISTIAN AID has warned that the “the time to act is now”, as it publishes a new report detailing the impact the war in Ukraine is having on global food and energy prices. 

With hunger having almost doubled since 2019, the international development agency’s report raises concerns of a refugee crisis, while it confirms the scope of Christian Aid projects in several of the countries could be set back because of increasing prices.

Christian Aid is calling for the UK Government to take a leadership role to push all G7 countries to uphold the G7 Famine Compact Commitments, including new funding to scale up crisis preparedness and response, and to restore the UK’s international aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP.

The intervention comes as polling by Savanta, commissioned by Christian Aid, shows seven in 10 (71 per cent) of the British public said the war in Ukraine and the consequences of rising food prices made them worry more about people facing hunger.

However, while nine in 10 (91 per cent) of the British public are aware of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, just two in 10 (23 per cent) are aware of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Michael Mosselmans, Christian Aid’s Head of Humanitarian Division, said: “We must be clear; we are facing a humanitarian crisis. Poverty and hunger are set to rise exponentially in some of the poorest parts of the world. Christian Aid is hearing of growing fears that a food crisis could lead to riots and instability. While these fears remain underreported, we must be ready for a refugee crisis like the Arab Spring.”

The report cites concern that areas in Burundi are running out of fuel, while in in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), local traders say the current situation is worse than during the pandemic. In Zimbabwe, food prices in May were 154.6 per cent higher than inthe previous year, with year-on-year inflation at 131.7 per cent.

In Afghanistan, Christian Aid workers in Herat found that the cost of a 16 litre oil pack has risen from 3000 Afghani (£27) to 4300 Afghani (£39) in just one week. The size of loaves in Herat bakeries has also reduced “significantly” after flour prices doubled in the last month.

Subrata De, Christian Aid country manager for Afghanistan, warned: “One cannot imagine the situation of poor families. People are openly offering to sell their body parts to manage the price hike. Very soon Afghanistan will experience another round of extreme humanitarian situation where families will be forced to sell their children.”

Analysis of energy costs in the report, using data from Global Petro Prices data sets, show that for the countries where Christian Aid is operational, household prices have risen steeply from 2019 to date. In addition to creating a cost-of-living crisis, Christian Aid fears the price rises are restricting their ability to respond to people in need.

Ray Hasan, Christian Aid’s Head of Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Caribbean and Global Programmes, said: “The rocketing price rises for food and fuel that we are currently experiencing are having serious impacts on our work. The food we distribute is more expensive now and sometimes we must cut back on certain items like oil so that we can help more people with the basics. Cash distributions are less meaningful than they used to be.”

“The time to act is now”, Mosselmans added. “We also need a long-term approach to stabilising global food security and to stop funding fossil fuels and the reliance on Russia that causes, both of which impacts the countries where we work. That means investment in sustainable renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.”

* The report is available to download here.

* Source: Christian Aid