Iran affirms support for UN efforts to solve food insecurity

May 20, 2022 - 18:26

TEHRAN - Majid Takht Ravanchi, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, has expressed support for the United Nations’ efforts to address problems affecting food security. 

The Iranian diplomat participated in the UN Security Council's open debate on conflict and food security. The session was held on Thursday. 

Takht Ravanchi, citing the Global Report on Food Crises for 2022, noted that acute food insecurity has increased significantly over the last six years.

He pointed out that conflict is still the leading cause of food insecurity for 139 million people in 24 countries who faced a crisis or worsening conditions in 2021.  Food insecurity, climate change, COVID-19 and the negative effects of conflicts all affect many countries including Iran, which has also been suffering from the United States sanctions for more than four decades.  

Hosting several million refugees has put a strain on the Iranian economy including food supply, he noted, calling for technical and financial assistance from the international community for refugees based there.

Turning to the food situation in the region, he highlighted that there are 22 million people in Afghanistan who are food insecure and in desperate need of assistance.

In early 2022, acute food insecurity in Yemen worsened, with an 8 percent increase in the number of people in need compared to early 2021, he said, according to a readout of the session put out by the UN.  

Takht Ravanchi stressed that the United Nations, the international community and international donors must fulfill their obligations and provide the necessary technical and financial assistance to foreign nationals residing in Iran.
The diplomat considered that food insecurity and conflict are closely related, and that conflict is the main cause of food insecurity.

He added, “The imbalance in the provision of food, the displacement of people, the increasing pressures on natural and economic resources, and the decrease in the resilience of the affected population and the diet, are all long-term effects of the conflicts.”

Referring to the Global Food Crisis Report for 2022, the Iranian ambassador said, “The level of global famine continues to rise at an alarming rate, and acute food insecurity has increased dramatically over the past six years.”

He referred to global statistics that indicated that by 2021, nearly 193 million people in 53 countries were acutely food insecure and needed immediate assistance. This includes nearly 40 million people in 36 countries who were in a state of emergency or worse.

“According to the same reports, conflicts are still the main cause of food insecurity for 139 million people in 24 countries who faced crisis or deterioration in conditions in 2021, and these figures show the deteriorating humanitarian situation around the world.”

The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations added, “The whole world suffers from food shortages, but there is no doubt that Africa suffers greatly from food insecurity.”

Referring to the situations in countries experiencing food crisis, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Palestine, Takht Ravanchi said, “In Afghanistan, 22 million people suffer from food insecurity and are in dire need of assistance.”

He went on to say that Iran is “cooperating with international organizations to address the special food security situation in Afghanistan in light of the challenges of the current difficult situation, and we hope that the international community will help the Afghan people to overcome their problems.”

The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations stressed that the humanitarian situation in Palestine is also no less important due to decades of occupation and the apartheid policies practiced by Israel, according to Al Alam. 

He added, “The illegal blockade imposed on Gaza, which severely restricts the right of the Palestinian people to food, must be lifted as soon as possible.”

Regarding Syria, he said the continuation of occupation, terrorism, and unilateral sanctions have led to the displacement of millions of people in the country, destroyed people's livelihoods, disrupted trade and the provision of food and agriculture, and damaged infrastructure and access to vital resources.

Pointing to the repercussions of sanctions on food security, Takht Ravanchi noted that unilateral coercive measures violate basic human rights, including the right to food, and would lead to food insecurity.

Some countries still use these illegal measures, which are prohibited in accordance with international humanitarian laws, as a weapon to starve the peoples of the countries subject to sanctions, he noted.

He added, “We believe that the processes of providing foodstuffs and the food chain should not be disrupted in any way, even in times of armed conflict. Full compliance with international laws, especially the Geneva Convention of 1949, is necessary in this regard.”

He underlined that Moreover, the embargo measures by the United Nations should not be imposed in a way that endangers global food security. 

He stressed that all parties to the conflict must respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, and adhere to the principles of humanity, impartiality and independence when providing humanitarian aid.

In the UN Security Council session, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, also addressed the food security situation around the world. 

He noted that 60 percent of the world’s undernourished people live in areas affected by conflict, underscoring that “when war is waged, people go hungry”.

In April, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners distributed food and cash to more than 3 million Ukrainians, he said. 
According to the secretary general, in 2021, most of the 140 million people suffering acute hunger globally lived in just 10 countries:  Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — with eight of those countries on the Security Council agenda.

“When this Council debates conflict, you debate hunger,” he pointed out.  “And when you fail to reach consensus, hungry people pay a high price.”

Armed conflict creates hunger, as fighting destroys farms and factories, drives people away from their harvests, causes shortages and drives up prices, he continued, underlining that today the impact of conflict is amplified by the climate crisis and economic insecurity compounded by the pandemic.

Citing the example of Niger, which faces extremist armed groups and cross-border incursions from Nigeria, he noted only 6 percent of its population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.