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WFP Says Food Becoming Harder to Find in Ukraine 

FILE - Local residents carry water from the food warehouse, on the territory which is under the Government of the Donetsk People's Republic control, on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, March 18, 2022.

The World Food Program warns food is getting harder to find in Ukraine as the war grinds on, forcing people to resort to extreme measures.

Ukraine, a country of 44 million people, is running out of food. The World Food Program estimates 45% of the country’s people are worried about finding enough to eat.

WFP calls the country’s food supply chain broken. Spokesman Tomson Phiri says the systems to feed the tens of millions of people trapped inside Ukraine are falling apart.

“WFP estimates that 1 out of 5 people in Ukraine today are already using some food-coping strategies. It is getting desperate. Desperate times are calling for desperate measures. They are reducing food portions. They are reducing the number of meals they consume. Adults are sacrificing the meals so the kids can have something to put in their bellies,” he said.

UNICEF says 4.3 million children, more than half of the country’s child population, have been displaced since Russia invaded. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which documents war casualties, says children account for at least 78 of the more than 1,080 people known to have been killed.

Aid agencies say relentless Russian bombing has destroyed residential areas, civilian infrastructure, more than 70 health care facilities, airports, and bridges.

Phiri says supermarkets are empty and warehouses drained of food stocks. He says families in embattled areas are having greater problems finding food, especially in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been nearly razed to the ground.

“Lack of access to conflict-hit areas and a lack of humanitarian partners on the ground are the biggest obstacles to providing life-saving assistance to families inside of Ukraine," he said. "The encircled city of Mariupol is running out of its last reserves of food and water. No humanitarian aid has been allowed into the city since it was encircled on 24th of February.”

Phiri says WFP has deployed enough food supplies to assist 3 million people inside Ukraine for a month. He says the agency is stockpiling food in several areas of the country in anticipation of escalating fighting in some major cities.