Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Conflict & Hunger
Statement15 September 2022
Thank you Madam President.
I also thank our briefers for their messages to the Council this afternoon. You have left us in no doubt as to the severity and urgency of the situation as millions of people face conflict induced hunger.
Your stark briefings, not just in relation to the situations listed in the in White Note but also Somalia and Afghanistan, make clear the need for this Council to not only hear these warnings – as foreseen under Resolution 2417 - but to listen, and to act. We have a collective responsibility to those starving as a consequence of unresolved conflict and insecurity.
I want to welcome the recommendations in the White Note received in advance of this meeting. These recommendations underline the link between hunger and conflict. This phenomenon is intrinsically linked to our responsibility to maintain international peace and security.
Madam President, I will focus my remarks on three areas –
First, today’s update is clear and irrefutable: conflict is exacerbating, driving and prolonging hunger and famine. We are failing in our challenge to reach Zero Hunger – a failure largely driven by armed conflict.
The demand for life saving and life sustaining humanitarian aid is now outstripping our capacity to respond. UN agencies and NGOs are forced to take food from the hungry to feed the starving.
Hard won progress has been reversed. Gains are being undone. The future for millions is bleak. That is a damning indictment of the state of food insecurity globally, and of this Council’s response to conflict induced hunger.
The global food insecurity crisis, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has stretched the international response. Climate events, such as the protracted drought in the Horn of Africa, have been compounded by a shortage in humanitarian food supplies and resources. Our briefers have been very clear about the real risk of famine brought about by drought in Somalia.
Ireland’s Minister for Overseas Development Aid saw this first hand earlier this month in South Sudan. He witnessed the disproportionate impact of hunger and conflict on women and children - with child malnutrition rates doubling since February.
Conflict induced hunger is taking lives today and altering outcomes for generations. Damage we cannot undo, but which we can and must work to prevent in the future.
My second point is that hunger is not only a consequence of conflict, it is cynically used by some as a weapon of war.
In Yemen, explosive remnants of war have made agricultural land unusable to populations totally reliant on it for their livelihoods. In Northeast Nigeria, farming assets have been stripped by non-State armed groups, reducing the availability of food to communities in need.
At the same time, parties to conflict are diverting, or blocking, vital aid flows to communities in dire need. In the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, access to critical aid supplies, has been highly constrained. Humanitarian workers in South Sudan, Ethiopia and other conflict affected contexts have been targeted, abducted and even killed in the course of their work. Ireland condemns these acts in the strongest terms.
There can be no impunity for parties to armed conflict who target humanitarian actors and utilise starvation and denial of access to humanitarian assistance to civilians. The law is clear, including this Council’s resolutions. There must be accountability for violations of IHL.
Thirdly - although essential, humanitarian assistance is not the answer to the scourge of conflict induced hunger. The answer is peace.
We often talk around this table about the need to act early, to prevent suffering before it’s too late. That means having the courage to take action to protect civilians. That means putting pressure on the parties to conflict to come to the table. That is our job.
As in all contexts, sustainable peace requires the active participation of women in all processes. It requires the input of youth to determine their futures.
In Yemen, an expanded truce leading to a durable ceasefire is the most viable path to an inclusive political settlement, led and owned by the Yemeni people.
The conflict in Tigray is a stark example of conflict-induced hunger. Our message to the parties is simple – stop fighting and return to the negotiations. This will end the risk of famine. It has been Ireland’s consistent view that the way to end conflict in Ethiopia, is through the AU-led mediation process. We the members of the Security Council, should provide our full support to this process.
The road to peace and security in South Sudan must include accountability for the serious violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and human rights, including conflict related sexual and gender-based violence, perpetrated by parties to the conflict.
In Northeast Nigeria, an end to the persistent conflict will enable much needed, and shamefully blocked, life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection. It will also shut off the drivers of forced child recruitment and the abhorrent attacks on and persecution of humanitarian workers.
The answer to the violence, violations, and suffering we have heard about today lies in peace and security. The essence of our collective mandate. Our political will must match the need if we are to break this deadly cycle and reverse escalating conflict induced hunger.
Thank you President.