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War in Ukraine amplifies ‘breathtaking’ rise in poverty, UN report says

Up to 71 million people from the poorest countries in the world are projected to be facing severe poverty as a result of the war in Ukraine, a report from the United Nations Development Programme published on Thursday has found.

Russia and Ukraine accounted for large parts of the global food and energy market before the start of the war, and “between half and two thirds of the 12-month international price increase in energy, sunflower seed oil and corn has occurred since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to the study.

Those already in poverty and near-poverty will be hit hardest due to their higher energy and food budget share, with Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Sahel region, most affected. The Balkans and the Caspian Basin are also among the worst-hit regions due to their close bilateral ties with both Russia and Ukraine.

The “cost-of-living crisis is tipping millions of people into poverty and even starvation at breathtaking speed,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said in a statement.

The Agency advises governments to react to the cost-of-living crisis with direct cash handouts to the most vulnerable and asks richer nations to extend and widen out the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), a mechanism that was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to help poorer countries.

The report adds to a series of warnings on the global consequences of the war in Ukraine. On Wednesday, a study from multiple agencies said the war in Ukraine could also increase the number of people suffering from hunger. According to the report, between 702 million and 828 million people already suffered from hunger in 2021.

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