Ukraine ‘Sucked the Oxygen’ Out of World Food Program


The U.N. World Food Program (WFP), the largest anti-hunger initiative around the globe, is facing a funding shortage amid the Ukraine crisis, as Executive Director Cindy McCain explained on Sunday that funding surrounding Ukraine has “sucked the oxygen out.”

In an interview with ABC This Week, McCain discussed the combination of circumstances that has left the WFP with a lack of money. In September, the WFP stated it has been struggling to meet the global need for food assistance as they have seen contributions decreasing while needs continuously increase.

“It’s a combination of things—it’s COVID, it’s climate change, it’s conflict and also the cost of being able to do business,” McCain told ABC “This Week”. “Those things combined and, of course, a world that has kind of grown tired of all this. There’s a great malaise right now within countries about foreign aid and giving.”

While WFP has been providing services to countries across the globe, McCain stated that the Ukraine crisis was one contributing factor towards the struggling need for funding.

Cindy McCain attends the 48th edition of Economic Forum of Cernobbio on September 02, 2022, in Cernobbio, Italy. As Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), McCain says WFP needs more funding.
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“Ukraine, for better or worse, has sucked the oxygen out of the room. And I—we certainly understand the need to support Ukraine. But there’s other hot spots in the world that are deeply and as much desperate as Ukraine is,” McCain said.

According to ABC News, when asked about who is not giving funds that previously did, McCain had noted that international conflicts had, in a way, overshadowed the broader needs of the hungry around the world, seemingly addressing the ongoing political divide between Democrats and Republicans in the Ukraine crisis.

“We have to make sure that we remind the world the importance of taking a look around the globe,” she continued. “But people are talking to their parliaments, their parliaments are saying no, their constituents are saying no. And we are facing some of the same things here in the United States.”

However, as WFP continues to provide for countries in need, McCain warned that in Afghanistan, for example, the food program doesn’t “have enough money to even get through October.”

While the organization has already had to make significant cuts in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Jordan, Palestine, South Sudan, Somalia, and Syria, McCain maintains the urgency of the situation.

“The bottom line is those that are going to suffer [are] those who can’t afford to,” McCain said.

Newsweek has reached out to WFP for comment.


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