Mediterranean countries expect new migrant crisis over food shortages from conflict in Ukraine

Dozens of migrants, from Egypt, Morocco, Somalia and Sierra Leone, wait to be assisted by a team of aid workers of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, after spending more than 20 hours at sea while fleeing Libya on board a precarious wooden boat in international waters, in the Central Mediterranean sea, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
By Kristýna Čtvrtlíková
2 Min Read

Mediterranean countries are expecting to receive more than 150,000 migrants across the main migratory routes to Europe this year, according to Cypriot Interior Minister Nicos Nouris.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Nouris made the remarks on Saturday following a meeting with colleagues from the MED5 nations which include Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 36,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in these five countries so far this year. There were 123,318 in the whole of last year, Reuters has reported.

So far, migrant numbers in southern Europe remain well below the figure of 2015, when more than a million people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East arrived in the five countries. However, there are fears of a new wave of migration due to food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

On Friday, U.N. crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, warned that a shortage of wheat and other commodities could affect 1.4 billion people. He added that further negotiations on the unblocking of Ukrainian ports are needed to prevent famine and mass migration.

Russia and Ukraine account for almost a third of global wheat supplies. In addition, Russia is a crucial exporter of fertilizers, and Ukraine is a significant supplier of corn and sunflower oil.

“If wheat remains blocked in Black Sea ports, we must expect a greater (migrant) flow,” Italian interior minister Luciana Lamorgese said on Sky TG24 on Friday.

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