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IMF Head Warns Anti-Russian Sanctions to Cause Mass Social Unrest

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EIRNS—The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva warned that anti-Russian sanctions could lead to civil unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere due to the high cost or inaccessibility of food imports. “When prices jump, and poor people cannot feed their families, they will be on the streets,” Georgieva said at the Doha Forum in Qatar on March 27. “One thing we know about trouble in one place: It travels, it doesn’t stay there.”

Calling for global cooperation to address the crisis in commodity and energy supplies, she said, “Please, work together. Oil producers, gas producers and food producers today are in a position to help reduce this uncertainty.”

Pointing to the fact that Ukraine is a major wheat exporter, she called for a quick resolution of the war. “The faster the tanks are out, the faster the tractors will be in,” she said. “We need, by July, the harvest in Ukraine to contribute to the stability of food prices.”

The overall world food price index of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reached another all-time high in February, above both the peak of the global food crisis of 2008 and the even worse crisis of 2011, both of which triggered food protests and riots including what was called the “Arab Spring.” The February index was 140.7, up 4% from January and almost 21% from February 2021. The previous all-time high of the Index, in February 2011, was 137.6. The FAO vegetable oil price index was at an all-time peak of 201.7, up another 8.5% in one month. The dairy price index was up 25% in a year, the meat price index up 15% and the cereal price index up 14.8% from February 2021. These large and damaging increases all took place before the outbreak of war in Ukraine and cut-off of exports from Russia and Ukraine.