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Ukraine war brewing ‘perfect storm’ of crises globally: UN Chief Guterres

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The war in Ukraine is brewing a “perfect storm” of crises globally, threatening to “devastate” economies in developing countries, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday.

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“We are now facing a perfect storm that threatens to devastate the economies of developing countries,” the UN Secretary-General said in an address that included the first detailed policy brief issued by the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG) on Wednesday.

Launched by the UN chief on March 14, the GCRG is a 32-member group, chaired by the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and includes heads of other UN agencies, development banks and international organizations.

The GCRG was set up “in response to concerns over the potential consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the UN report stated.

According to the UN, the Ukraine crisis risks tipping up to 1.7 billion people, over one-fifth of humanity, into poverty, destitution and hunger. Ukraine and the Russian Federation provide 30 percent of the world’s wheat and barley, one-fifth of its maize and over half of its sunflower oil, making their grain combined an essential food source for vulnerable people as it used to provide more than one-third of the wheat imported by 45 African and least-developed countries.

Guterres pointed out that while the whole world focuses on the effects of the war on Ukraine, the Russian invasion was also impacting other countries across the world, pushing more people into poverty and causing greater social unrest.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a “special operation,” which has since driven millions out of the country and cripple several economies across the world due to sanctions against Russia.

The group aims to ensure cross-governmental collaboration, partnerships and coordination in a variety of sectors to help vulnerable countries avert large-scale crises. The group’s first policy was released on Wednesday.

The policy brief urges global cooperation in tackling the crisis which it said “will leave deep and long-lasting scars,” calling on countries to recognize that “the very nature of increasingly common global shocks is such that countries are not individually responsible” because solutions need to be devised on a global level, rather on a national one.

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