UNHCR worried global food shortage could give rise to more refugees

The chief of the United Nations' refugee agency says the global shortage of foodstuffs triggered by the war in Ukraine could lead to a new spike in the number of refugees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi signaled the warning in an interview with Japanese public broadcaster NHK ahead of UN-designated World Refugee Day on June 20.

Grandi said that he is very grateful for the enormous resources that have been mobilized all over the world to respond to the Ukraine crisis.

He said, however, he is beginning to worry that this will come at the expense of responses to other humanitarian and developmental needs across the world.

He expressed concern that the Ukraine crisis could diminish resources for refugees from other countries, including Afghanistan and Syria, stressing that they should not be forgotten.

Grandi said that in some parts of Africa that are already very fragile, people face conflict, poverty and the impact of climate change.

He warned that if they have to deal with shortages of imported food in addition to these challenges, it wouldn't be surprising if there were additional displacement.

With reference to Japan, he said he understands that the response to the coronavirus pandemic has largely depleted the public budget.

He went on to urge continued help for refugees, displaced people and other vulnerable people across the globe impacted by war and other crises, including the effects of climate change.