Among those spearheading the massive effort is a former B.C. resident from Salmon Arm who is chief of staff for the world’s largest humanitarian organization.
“It’s about getting as much food in as quickly as we can and particularly to communities that we fear may become besieged at some point,” Robert Turner told Global News.
“And so, we want to create strategic stocks inside those communities.”
The organization’s emergency operation is focused on getting desperately needed food supplies to people fleeing Ukraine.
“We’ve provided food assistance to more than 700,000 people inside Ukraine,” said Turner. “That’ll be a million by the end of this month. It’ll be two-and-a-half million during the course of April.”
But the biggest challenge Turner says is access — particularly in the hardest-hit areas.
“The areas that you’re seeing on TV where … there’s no running water, where the power is out, there’s no fuel, no food or limited, we simply can’t get there,” he said, adding “we have food in trucks literally ready to go to Mariupol if we get access.”
The dire situation in Ukraine is expected to have major implications for food security and prices around the world.
With increased food and shipping costs, Turner says the programme can’t sustain critical operations to feed the world’s hungriest people. In fact, he says it’s already had to scale back some its food assistance programs.
“In the Sahel area of West Africa, a dramatic need has increased. We have drought in the Horn of Africa and Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, 13 million people require food assistance,” he said.
“In Yemen, we’ve already had to reduce rations for 8 million people. In Afghanistan, we’re afraid that we won’t be able to sustain the operation.”
That has the organization pleading for financial help as the war in Ukraine has the potential to make things even worse.
Turner says the fear is funding operations in Ukraine will drain needed funding for other critical operations.
“The conflict in Ukraine is having an impact far beyond that region,” he said. “And so it’s a global problem that requires a global response.”
More information about the world food programme can be found on this website.