“People have a right to food, and governments should do everything in their power to protect that right, otherwise we risk not only food insecurity but the insecurity and instability that gross deprivation on this scale could trigger,” Fakih said.

Layal Aswad was already exhausted by Lebanon’s devastating two-year economic collapse. Now, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends food and energy prices soaring even further, she finds herself struggling to put food on the table for her family of four.

“Even bread is not something we take for granted anymore,” said the 48-year-old housewife, standing recently in a supermarket aisle in front of gallons of cooking oil whose prices had risen to an all-time high.

From Lebanon, Iraq and Syria to Sudan and Yemen, millions of people in the Middle East whose lives were already upended by conflict, displacement and poverty are now wondering where their next meals will come from. Ukraine and Russia account for a third of global wheat and barley exports, which countries in the Middle East rely on to feed millions of people who subsist on subsidized bread and bargain noodles. They are also top exporters of other grains and the sunflower seed oil that is used for cooking.

Even before the war in Ukraine, people in countries across the Middle East and North Africa were not getting enough food to eat. Now with trade disruptions spurred by the conflict, more commodities are becoming either unaffordable or unavailable.

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