By John Ikani
Chad on Thursday declared a “food emergency” in the impoverished landlocked country, urging the international community to help.
The plea for aid comes before a meeting Friday between the head of the African Union and Russia’s president to discuss grain supplies in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The African leaders will mediate the war in Ukraine and discuss the release of stocks of grain and fertilizer whose blockage affects importing nations.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions on Moscow have disrupted deliveries of wheat and other commodities from the two countries, fueling concerns about the risk of hunger around the world.
Around 30 percent of the world’s wheat supply comes from Ukraine and Russia.
Food prices in Africa have already exceeded those in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab springs and the 2008 food riots.
The government calls on “all national and international partners to help the population”, a decree signed by the chief of the military transition Mahamat Idriss Déby read.
Citing a “constant deterioration of the food and nutritional situation and a growing risk” of food scarcity if no assistance was given to the Sahelian nation.
The United Nations has warned that 5.5 million people in Chad – more than a third of the population – will need humanitarian assistance this year.
The World Food Programme said in March that some 2.1 million Chadians would be “severely food insecure” during the dry weather season that starts this month.
Chad is the planet’s third poorest nation, the United Nations says.
In 2021, it ranked 113 out of 116 nations on the “Global Hunger Index” – a peer-reviewed tool compiled by European NGOs.
A junta led by General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno has ruled Chad since last year, after his father, long-serving strongman Idriss Deby Itno, died in battle.