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Iran supports UN efforts to address global food insecurity, says top envoy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Internally displaced Ethiopians queue to receive food aid in the Higlo camp for people displaced by drought in the town of Gode, Somali Region, Ethiopia, on April 26, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Iran's envoy to the United Nations (UN) says the Islamic Republic supports the world body's efforts to address global food insecurity amid the acute hunger crisis gripping the world. 

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on conflict and food security in New York on Thursday said the food, climate, and health crises have like other countries affected Iran too.

“Food insecurity, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the adverse impacts of various international conflicts have all affected many countries, including Iran, which has suffered from US sanctions for more than four decades,” the envoy remarked.

He said the presence of millions of refugees from neighboring Afghanistan has also put pressure on the Iranian economy, and placed a burden on its food supplies.

Takht-Ravanchi called on the United Nations, the international community, and aid organizations to honor their commitments and to provide necessary technical and financial assistance to foreign nationals residing in Iran.

Conflicts leading cause of global food insecurity 

The senior Iranian diplomat stressed that disruptions in the supply chain, displacement of people, increased pressure on natural and economic resources, and dramatic decline in the tolerance of affected populations are all long-term side effects of the crises.

“The global level of hunger continues to rise at an alarming rate, and acute food insecurity has increased significantly over the past six years,” the envoy noted.

“In 2021, nearly 193 million people in 53 countries experienced dire food insecurity and needed immediate help,” he hastened to add, citing global statistics. 

Africa suffers most from food insecurity

Iran's ambassador to the world body said the whole world has been affected by acute food shortages, but Africa undoubtedly suffers the most.

Importantly, despite hosting 60 percent of the world's arable land, the African continent is a major importer of food, which means that disruptions in the supply chain affect it the most.

Millions of people in the African countries fear being pushed into poverty and malnutrition amid acute food insecurity in the world.

22 million Afghans in urgent need of food aid

Iran's permanent representative to the UN also drew the world’s attention to the food crisis in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

“In Afghanistan, 22 million people suffer from food insecurity and are in dire need of help. Iran is cooperating with international organizations to address the emergency food security situation in Afghanistan,” he said.

“The international community is expected to help Afghans overcome their problems amid the current challenging situation.”

Takht-Ravanchi said the acute food insecurity in Yemen recorded an 8 percent increase in the early part of this year, compared to the same period last year. 

He said the decades of Israeli occupation and the apartheid regime’s policies have led to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Palestine, calling for swift and unconditional removal of the siege on the Gaza Strip, which has severely restricted the access of people residing in the coastal enclave to food.

Food supply disrupted in Syria due to occupation, sanctions, terrorism

Iran’s UN ambassador also said the ongoing foreign occupation of Syrian lands, terrorism, and unilateral sanctions have displaced millions of people in the Arab country, destroyed people's livelihoods, disrupted trade and agriculture, and damaged vital infrastructure.

Coercive, illegal measures aimed at starving sanctioned nations

Elsewhere in his remarks, Takht-Ravanchi pointed to the negative effects of sanctions on food security, saying unilateral coercive measures violate basic human rights, including the right to food, and result in food insecurity.

“Unfortunately, some countries continue to employ such illegal actions, which are prohibited under the international humanitarian law, as a weapon to starve the sanctioned countries,” he said.

“We believe that food supplies and food chains should not be disrupted by any means, even at the time of armed conflicts. Close adherence to international law, especially the 1949 Geneva Convention, is essential in this regard,” Takht-Ravanchi said.

He said the UN sanctions should not be slapped in a way that would “endanger global food security”.

“All parties to a conflict must respect and protect medical and humanitarian staff. The principles of humanity, impartiality, and independence must also be observed when providing humanitarian assistance,” the envoy emphasized.

“We support the efforts by the leadership of the United Nations aimed at addressing food insecurity challenges and are ready to assist such attempts.”

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