General Assembly Security Council

UNSC Open Debate on Conflict and Food Security


Statement by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti,

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations


11 March 2021


Thank you Madam President. Let me begin by congratulating the US delegation for organizing this important open debate on conflict induced food insecurity. I thank Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Executive Director of WFP David Beasley for their briefings. I thank Executive Director Oxfam International Ms. Gabriela Bucher for bringing the civil society perspective. I start with paying tribute to all humanitarian, health and aid workers for their assistance to people in need, especially in these challenging times of COVID-19.


Madam President,


  1. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”. Food security is the basic minimum required especially when we are accosted with such a devastating world crisis in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  1. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that the number of people suffering from food insecurity is projected to more than double by the end of 2020, to 270 million people, with the COVID-19 pandemic making it worse. The “Global Report on Food Crises 2020” brought out by the World Food Programme and 15 other humanitarian and development agencies mentions that more than 77 million people are suffering from acute food insecurity in conflict-affected countries.
  1. While Resolution 2417 (2018) recognizes the link between armed conflict and conflict-induced food insecurity and the threat of famine, it is important to note that food insecurity is by itself not a sufficient condition for political violence and conflict. The link between the two is context and region specific and varies according to a country’s level of development and the strength of its political institutions and social safety nets.
  1. Fragile states generally have weak capacities to design, implement and monitor policies and programmes related to food, thereby increasing their vulnerability while facing a conflict situation. The solution for lack of food security in conflict-affected States is, therefore, elsewhere. As such conflict-induced food-security issues should be taken up by Council only in the context of specific countries where it may pose a threat to international peace and security.
  1. We are of the view that armed conflict and terrorism combined with extreme weather, crop pests, food price volatility, exclusion, and economic shocks can devastate any fragile state leading to food insecurity and increase the threat of famine. Armed groups have time and again resorted to scorched-earth tactics and deliberately targeted civilian infrastructures such as land, farm animals, and water wells which erode economic growth and development. Inability to fight locusts, for example, can affect an entire region and even further, and directly affect food security.

Madam President,


  1. Covid-19 has only served to make food insecurity more complex by, inter alia, forcing countries to impose restrictions on movement of people thereby depriving farms of hands to reap the harvest, resulting in loss of farm based employment, limiting access to food in the rural areas and eroding the ability of the State to cope with the socio-economic pressure of the pandemic. For the displaced, particularly women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, the lack of access to dietary energy, clean water, and sanitation has had adverse nutrition and health implications.
  1. At the recently held inter-agency dialogue on the “Impact of Conflict-Climate Change-COVID-19 Nexus on Africa’s Food Systems” by FAO and AU, the experts agreed that building resilience to conflict-induced food insecurity calls for reshaping food systems to be more inclusive of poor and marginalized populations. We are of the view that inclusive food systems that empower marginalized people by giving them a voice in local food policies will usher in a food secured future. This would enable young people and women to find remunerative jobs, small farm holders to have access to agricultural markets, and adoption of climate-smart policies that promote seed diversity, innovation, and the spirit of self-reliance.


Madam President,


  1. Civilians in conflict-affected areas need safe, unhindered, and rapid access to basic services and humanitarian workers need safe ways to ensure their teams and emergency supplies can reach communities in need. For example, in Northeast Nigeria, thousands of people are trapped without life-saving humanitarian assistance. In Yemen, restrictions on land, sea, and air trade routes have led to severe cuts of vital supplies of commodities such as food, fuel, and medicines. In Mali, counter-terrorism measures limit civilian access to humanitarian aid. The ten-year long conflict in Syria has adversely affected food security, putting millions of Syrians to risk. Unilateral measures can only make these situations worse.
  1. The UN and member states must make ensuring access a priority, by engaging with national and regional authorities. While all humanitarian action must be primarily guided by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, we are unfortunately witnessing an increasing tendency to politicize humanitarian situations. We need to resist the trend of linking humanitarian and developmental assistance with the progress in the political process. Such a position by donors will only enhance food insecurity in conflict situations. There is an urgent need for the donor community, to scale up assistance to conflict affected countries and to ensure that humanitarian agencies receive the necessary funding to fully execute their plans without politicisation of basic needs of the people.

Madam President,


  1. The global community has a moral obligation to act in situations where there are credible reasons to believe that millions of people are in desperate need of assistance. Food assistance alone surely cannot be a long-term sustainable solution to food insecurity. Promoting peace and stability and development is paramount and must include livelihood support, social protection programmes, and community-based approaches including investment in agriculture infrastructure and capacity-building in rural development, especially in conflict areas. This calls for a multi-stakeholder approach that is coherent and devoid of politics. India stands ready to extend support to all such efforts.
  1. At the onset of the Covid pandemic, India enacted a series to measures nationally to augment its food security and to emerge from the crisis much more resilient. These include developing the Indian digital ecosystem for Agriculture (IDEA) as a modular, interoperabledigital platform, that aims to improve the welfare and income of farmers, increase productivity and efficiency in agriculture and allied sectors, and unlock new opportunities for innovation. With a view to encourage use of modern technologies in agriculture, the guidelines of the national e-Governance plan in agriculture were revised in June, 2020 by providing support for the projects involving the use of modern information technologies. The creation of a National Database of Farmers, that already covers over 50 million farmers, is also being taken up as a priority.
  1. India remains strongly committed to the cause of global food security and has over the last several years contributed to UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UNOCHA in response to several humanitarian crises. Further, India has always stepped forward to extend aid amounting to millions of tonnes of food grains to several vulnerable countries across the world. In 2019 alone, the WFP sourced approximately 11,000 metric tons of pulses, sorghum, wheat, and rice from India to assist vulnerable populations.
  1. More recently, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, India has provided food aid in the form of thousands of metric tonnes of wheat, rice, pulses and lentils to several countries across the world, including Myanmar, Maldives, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Lebanon, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe and many others, to strengthen their food security in these challenging times. As recently as last month, India gifted 2000 MT of rice to strengthen food security in Syria. Even as I speak, a ship is enroute now from India to deliver 1000MT of food aid each to Madagascar and Comoros. We remain committed to providing assistance to all vulnerable countries to support them in their quest for food security. Our spearheading the resolution for declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets is in this direction. We are equally committed to provide vaccines to the world so that we tackle Covid and food insecurity at the same time.
  1. I would like to conclude by citing a quote from Indian scriptures, which says Annam Brahma” – i.e. “food is God”. Let us resolve to collectively work together in ensuring that no one has to be ever devoid of food.                 

I thank you Madam President.