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15 Jul, 2021 10:14

Nutrition emergency: Ukraine has more citizens classed as ‘severely food insecure’ than any other European state, claims UNICEF

Nutrition emergency: Ukraine has more citizens classed as ‘severely food insecure’ than any other European state, claims UNICEF

A new UNICEF study has revealed that Ukraine has more people classed as “severely food insecure” than any other European nation, with 1.1 million citizens regularly skipping meals or eating significantly less due to money issues.

That number increases to 8.7 million when those classed as “moderately” food insecure are included.

The latest figure, published on Monday, also highlights Ukraine’s status as the only Eastern European nation to have seen an increase in the number of severely food-insecure people in recent years, having jumped from 900,000 since the 2014-2016 period. All other countries in the region have improved their nutrition situation during the same time span.

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The growth in numbers of those suffering from food poverty is especially worrying, considering Ukraine’s significant population loss since the 2014 Maidan, which installed a pro-Western regime in Kiev, and the subsequent Donbass War. As well as the loss of Crimea, and the de facto separatist status of parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, millions of citizens have fled the country seeking employment abroad.

In 2018, Ukraine’s former prime minister Nikolay Azarov claimed that more than eight million Ukrainians had moved elsewhere after the Maidan, which he labelled “a coup.”

“4.4 million went to Russia, 1.2 million to Poland, others went to other countries. Neither Libya, nor Syria, nor Afghanistan, nor other war-torn countries saw such a mass emigration,” he explained.

Ukraine’s population is impossible to accurately measure, given the country hasn’t conducted a census in two decades. The true figure could be as low as 30 million, although Kiev itself estimates 37.3 million.

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The country’s eastern neighbor, Russia, has just 400,000 people classed as severely food insecure. For comparison, large countries outside of Europe such as the US (with 2.7 million) and Brazil (with 7.5 million) have many more people skipping meals. Russia has about half the population of the US.

When looked at as a proportion of the population, the UNICEF report reveals that 2.5% of Ukrainians are forced to skip meals due to financial issues. This is far worse than in some of the country’s neighboring states, such as Russia (<0.5%) and Poland (<0.5%), but considerably better than in its neighbor to the west, Moldova (4.5%).

While a worrying result when compared to nearby nations, Ukraine’s proportional figures are better than some Western states, such as Ireland (4.3%) and Portugal (3.2%).

UNICEF is an agency of the UN dedicated to providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. Headquartered in New York City, it works with government agencies worldwide to track global poverty.

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