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Ukraine war unleashing modern slavery and food insecurity

Ukraine war unleashing modern slavery and food insecurity

Needless to say that the war brings in its wake, displacement, hunger, death, and destruction for the countries directly involved in the conflict. But, it also has serious ramifications for other countries.

Nazeer Ahmed Arijo

For the last three years, a pair of dove – a female and male, has been nesting subsequently giving birth to its young ones in my room, built upstairs. Once the chick/sometimes two, are out of the eggshells. I have noticed both male and female arriving in quick succession to feed the newly born bird/ birds. One day, I found a nestling – a young bird that still had not developed feathers to fly away- was consistently crying, but her parents not coming. Throughout the day, the young bird kept crying at the pitch of his/her throat, bringing tears into my eyes. Under such circumstances, I was thinking to shift the nestling to my neighbor who keeps pet pigeons to look after the bird in question. Thankfully, the one with a big neck appeared. I assumed it to be a male as the female have a slender neck and started feeding it. That day, the hunger faced by the bird in question and subsequent cries made as well as its attempt to get parental caress and cuddling reminded me of the vulnerable situation of the children bearing the brunt of war and losing their cottage, parental care in every context.

The war that has been started in the name of strategic gains called to ‘” disarm and de-nazify Ukraine” while allowing human beings especially children and women to be left at the mercy of neighboring countries, and  manipulators ready to exploit those leaving their country for safety. The aggressor is not alive to the fact that his madness to annex territorial spaces of a sovereign state is culminating in catastrophic conditions for those trapped in the war or fleeing the war.

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on February 24, around 3 million have fled Ukraine with 1.8million taking refuge in neighboring Poland. Poland, an East European country is a point of entry for those fleeing senseless war as there exists 350Km shared land-border between the two countries. Besides, the two countries have time-tested cultural and economic ties. According to UN facts and figures made available of those leaving Ukraine to neighboring countries on 15 March, Poland had taken in 1,808,436, Hungary 263,888, Slovakia 213,000, Moldova 337, 215, Romania 453,432, Russia 142,994, and Belarus 1,475. As per the United Nations estimate, 1.85 million internally displaced people desperately need bedding, medication, heating, food, water, and shelter in the face of ongoing indiscriminate targeting of civilians.

UN spokesman Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams recently announced that it was mostly women and children making the crossing into Poland. The UNICEF says at least 1.5 million children have joined the exodus. According to UNICEF, more than 500 unaccompanied children fled from their country- Ukraine into Romania in a period of three weeks. It warned that minors separated from their families were” especially vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation”. It is to be kept in mind that the Ukraine government has banned male population with the exception of the elderly not to leave so that they could fight for the country.

The UK has opened its gates for refugees first for those having their relatives there, now open to all, coming into the country under humanitarian considerations. The vetting process for the applicants seeking refuge in the UK has been relaxed. Thus, the UK government has announced to give350pounds for those taking a refugee. The saner voices in the UK have raised alarms over the looming danger of refugees being exploited by unscrupulous characters in the country. Jessica Elgot and Rajeev Syal in their write-up titled “UK refugee scheme could lead to exploitation of Ukrainians, Say, experts” writes that “Lauren Agnew, the human trafficking policy expert at Christian Action, Research, and Education, said the scheme is “well-motivated” but could lead to exploitation. “With large numbers of applications needing to be processed quickly, red flags could be missed in the vetting of potential hosts. “Recent statistics from the National Crime Agency estimate there are at least 6,000-8,000 modern slavery offenders in the UK. We can be certain that some of this number will be seeing” the Homes for Ukraine scheme” as an opportunity to turn a profit. The saner voices in the UK including Theresa May have cautioned their government [The UK] against the criminal gangs seeing refugees crises as an opportunity for exploitation in every context.

The former prime minister said: “This is happening in Poland. It’s happening in other countries where Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to. “It’s a sad reflection on human nature that the very point where these women and children are fleeing Ukraine for their safety to find refuge elsewhere, the criminal gangs have moved in to make money from the trafficking of what they consider to be yet another commodity, that is human beings, and they are attempting to make money out of this human distress and vulnerability”.

Needless to say that the war brings in its wake, displacement, hunger, death, and destruction for the countries directly involved in the conflict. But, it also has serious ramifications for other countries as it is unleashing social, political, and economic problems in the shape of refugees, rising prices of energy, subsequent inflation, etc. The Greek Foreign Ministry has warned of looming shortage of wheat and grains in the European Union due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Imperialist America’s interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine is an open secret, Intoxicated with the idea of regime change, it has both funded and fuelled soft coups unleashing civil war in which around 14 thousand people were killed.

Despite this, America and its media outlets have put their political weight behind Volodomor Zelensky and they have dared Ukraine to continue the war because they want to use the Ukrainian military and civilian as cannon fodder in a proxy war with its political enemy-Russia. European countries also are giving political and logistical support as they both want Ukraine to fight a proxy war for them. Actor turned-Ukrainian President Volodymyre Zelenskyy has said he is fighting for European values. What he has failed to understand so far is that global politics is not based on democratic principles and justice. Humanitarian crises are both defined and handled differently when such crises are happening in different parts of the world. It is the vested interests, regional and racial preferences fueling the engine of global order. We saw the death of both American and European values called democratic norms while Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. were bombed and the population culled. This carnage happened because of the American and European being on the same page.

The countries from Poland down to others that have opened their arms to embrace Ukrainian refugees were reluctant to receive those fleeing war zones. The refugees from Asia and Africa-the global south were seen as swarms of locusts- economic migrants threatening their prosperity. This is the reason why much material in both print and electronic media appeared and uploaded respectively exposing the double standards applied by those posing as proponents of global goodness. The so-called champions of human rights turned a blind eye when it came to raising robust voice while the people of Kashmir, Palestine, and Rohingya of Myanmar were besieged, killed, and deprived of citizenship by the oppressive regimes of India, Israel, and Burma respectively. Many opinion- makers have asked not to highlight historical hypocrisy emanating from Ukraine refugees episode. However, such double standards imbedded in international political spectrum can’t be suppressed. History will keep naming and shaming the countries and those in power corridors involved.

It has to be acknowledged that countries wielded with “Veto power” use it for their advantage i.e. Regional and politically-motivated outcomes called strategic aims. As a result, the UNO stands as the lamest duck entity in terms of stopping the aggressive states against those aggressed. This is the reason why, intoxicated with military might, some of those are either directly subjugating small states or giving legitimation to their bedfellows for the same  through the’ veto power’ ultimately resulting in no resolution of long-standing global issues. Had the European states stood against injustice inflicted upon the population in various countries elaborated above and somewhere else irrespective of the color of Skin and mainland, Ukraine would not have been attacked.” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

Russia claims that Ukrainians and Russians are “One people”. Despite this claim, Russia has started a war, and its tanks, missiles, and bombs are destroying the infrastructure and killing innocent civilians. Food warehouses and bread factories are being targeted reminding Ukrainians of the chilling memory of Holodomor.

In the 1930s, Stalin’s ugly scheme called Holodomor -an artificial famine is said to have killed more than 3 million Ukrainians. Kremlin’s callousness did not stop there as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, including the best and brightest minds in the field of Science, Literature and Poetry- were allegedly physically and mentally tortured or silenced for life. Today, Russia is one of the top three oil producers in the world (after America and roughly equal with Saudi Arabia, and is also the world’s largest natural gas exporter and second-largest producer again after America.

These energy resources have brought global political clout and massive revenues for Russia. Because of Ukraine invasion, Russia’s economy will dip 10% this year and inflation will soar to 20% by the end of the year thanks to sanctions slapped on Russia.

Daniel Yergin one of the energy analyst and award-winning author of “The Prize and, “The New Map” says Vladimir Putin is destroying the foundation of his country’s economic power. There is no denying that European countries are looking to Gulf monarchies for energy alternative i.e. to minimize their dependence on Russian oil and natural gas. This will further undermine Russian economic growth. Besides, sanctions slapped on Russia will wreak havoc on the population. The distinguished writer Olga Tokariuk has convincingly commented on the war in question saying “This war is not just between Russia and Ukraine. It’s a war between tyranny and democracy. Between the past and the future. Between backwardness and innovation. Between cruelty and humanity”.                                                                                                                      We are living in the age of capitalism. Petty profiteering is put before human welfare even during war crises; and democratic norms nullified by those lecturing the world on democracy and justice. Manipulators see human tragedy as an opportunity to exploit the vulnerable; sexual predators want to catch the helpless for selling sex, and weapons exporting countries see it as the potential for sale of weapons of mass destruction. Ukrainian President has decided to purchase weapons on credit.

Because of military might of some states, and petty- political agenda pursued by the powerful players in the global political spectrum; the innocent and the vulnerable are paying heavy price following death and destruction, sanctions and subsequent famine and poverty unleashed by war. Russia and Ukraine combine for nearly a third of world’s wheat and barley exports. Ukraine also is a major supplier of corn and the global leader in sunflower oil, used in food processing. Ukraine is known as the world’s “Food basket”. The war unquestionably would reduce food supplies. And disruption in supply chain is synonymous with price hike. The global repercussions of the Ukraine war have begun. The shortage of cooking oil and subsequent price hike have raised their head in Germany. The prolonged war will also negatively impact those already left on the margins and receiving subsidized bread in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon etc. Thus, food insecurity looms large across the countries and continents. International Grains Council Director Arnaud Petit has warned that the countries that heavily rely on affordable wheat exports from Ukraine could face shortages starting in July. The crippling economic conditions of the population that had undergone war can be measured from the fact that a growing number of impoverished Afghans are selling their kidneys as the country descended into economic crisis following the shameful flight of America six months ago. The practice has become so widespread in the western city of Herat that a nearby settlement has been nicknamed “one kidney village”. Imagine the scale of war casualty, 75% of Yemeni children suffer from acute malnutrition. And, 16.2million, more than of the country’s population of 30 million –are food insecure. The Saudi-UAE war backed by America has culminated in catastrophe for the people of Yemen. The power struggle between Riyadh and Tehran and their subsequent desire for dominance have brought unimaginable troubles for the innocent people of Yemen. Someone rightly remarked that “At the end of the war, leaders shake hands. The mother waits for her son, the wife waits for her husband and the daughter waits for her father. I don’t know who started the war but I know who paid the price”.

Some of those trapped in Mariupol- sheltering in basements and bunkers said,” We had no water, no light, no gas, absolutely no communication”.

Unfortunately, efforts to end the war are not underway. But efforts are afoot to fuel the ongoing war thanks to petty politics, presided over by the powerful international players. What those at the helm of Ukraine’s affairs need to realize is that the various international players have placed their gun on the shoulders of Kyiv to exact their political equations and those in Moscow need to understand that the powers that be want to weaken the country – Russia. The both countries should sit down together to carve out a political strategy to end the conflict in question .This would be in the larger interest of their respective countries in particular and the humanity in general.


Nazeer Ahmed Arijo- Sindh-CourierNazeer Ahmed Arijo, an educationist and a freelance writer. nazeerarijo@gmail.com