Statement by H.E. Mr. Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN at the Security Council High-Level Open Debate on “Conflict and Food Security”

Feridun H.Sinirlioğlu 11.03.2021
Madame President,

Food insecurity remains a global concern, threatening political stability, worsening humanitarian crises and derailing hard-won progress in global health.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further complicated the situation. Economic downturns and disrupted supply chains led to lack of adequate, safe, affordable and nutritious food for millions of people.

Food insecurity is likely to exacerbate, with extreme climate events risking all aspects of agricultural production as well as distribution channels and market flows.

The world’s population is expected to increase to 10.9 billion in 2100, potentially resulting in a substantial surge in food demand.

Unfortunately, we are losing sight of our global commitment to ending hunger by 2030. Failing to achieve this fundamental goal will have dramatic social, economic and political implications.

Madame President,

Conflict continues to pose the biggest threat to global food security.

Clearly, there is an urgent need to increase cooperation on creating conditions for peace to end conflicts.

Through UNSCR 2417 (2018), the Security Council recognized for the first time the intrinsic link between hunger and conflict. The effective implementation of this resolution is essential in humanitarian settings such as Syria, Yemen and in various parts of Africa.

The use of starvation as a weapon of war is unacceptable.

We unfortunately witness this horrible crime as a frequent tactic of war in Syria. For too long, the Syrian regime has left civilians without access to food and has deprived them from their most basic humanitarian needs.

Harsh winter conditions in northwest Syria, increased morbidity from flooding and the burning of unsafe materials for heating or cooking have further deteriorated the nutrition situation.

According to OCHA, across the region, there is a 55% increase in cases of severe acute malnutrition as of January 2021, compared to the same period last year. On the other hand, chronic malnutrition, currently affecting one third of children, is also on the rise.

In this human-made disaster, UN cross-border humanitarian operations remain the only hope and crucial lifeline for the survival of millions of people who are trapped in a vicious cycle of violence in the northwest in lamentable conditions.

The response efforts by the international community, particularly the UN, to the victims of the Syrian crisis are carried out through this mechanism. Within this framework, more than 40 thousand trucks of the UN humanitarian assistance have been sent through Turkey to the northwest Syria.

We commend WFP’s efforts in delivering almost 30 thousand trucks of food assistance under this mechanism as well as contributing to devising better logistical conditions under its status of “cluster lead agency”.

The mechanism ensures that the international aid is directly delivered to 4.1 million people in need, including 2.7 million IDPs, in the north of Syria.

In view of these appalling conditions, the Security Council does not have any other option but to renew the UN cross-border humanitarian mechanism next July, with additional border gates, and Bab al Salam crossing point in particular, to resume aid delivery for 1.3 million people in Northern Aleppo.

To this end, the Council should uphold its responsibility and take action to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

Madame President,

While reports of hunger and the threat of famine are growing, we cannot stand idly by. As the international community we need to adopt a preventive approach to the growing challenge of acute hunger and food insecurity. We must act before food emergencies turn into full-blown famines.

We need to put in place solid institutional reforms and strengthen our efforts to improve the resilience of the agriculture sector against droughts and floods. Agro-technology practices could be useful and provide us with valuable solutions in this regard.

Preventing speculative food prices in marketing and trade, and supporting the continuation of the supply chains are vital.

Moreover, strengthening of existing financial assistance mechanisms or establishment of new funds will help address the needs of local people living in conflict areas or food-insecure countries.

Enhanced cooperation between international financial institutions and humanitarian organizations will undoubtedly facilitate efforts on the ground.

Rural livelihoods should be supported with investments and additional grants. Women and girls, especially rural women, have to be empowered in their efforts to gain full access to land, affordable loans, and local, regional and global markets.

Finally, we also need to focus our efforts on delivering basic emergency tools without delay, including food, water, health and protection services, to conflict-affected regions.

We hope that the upcoming Food Systems Summit of the Secretary-General will help address these multi-faceted issues in relation to global food security.

We expect that the summit will provide all relevant stakeholders with valuable guidance as to how we can adapt and adjust our food systems to address challenges of today and the future. Turkey remains committed to contributing to the global efforts to achieve a successful outcome at the Summit.

Thank you.