Muslims face frugal Ramadan as Ukraine war drives up food prices


Personnel put together bread at a bakery in the war-torn Yemeni cash Sanaa – Copyright POOL/AFP Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

Hashem Osseiran with AFP bureaus

Russia’s Ukraine invasion, which has now exacerbated food stuff woes in elements of Africa and the Center East, is marring preparations for the holy thirty day period of Ramadan and forcing a switch to frugal iftar sunset foods.

From Lebanon to Tunisia and Somalia, Muslims who usually crack a dawn-to-dusk rapid with lavish family members meals, are now battling to protected even the most fundamental staples in light of skyrocketing foods and gas selling prices.

“High charges have an affect on and spoil the spirit of Ramadan,” explained Sabah Fatoum, a resident of the Israeli-blockaded Gaza strip, where by customer goods charges have climbed by up to 11 per cent, in accordance to Palestinian authorities.

“We hear that charges will increase even more… it’s a stress for people today,” the 45-calendar year-outdated informed AFP in advance of the holy thirty day period that starts this weekend with the sighting of the crescent moon.

Russia and Ukraine, with broad grain-developing regions that are amid the world’s key breadbaskets, account for a substantial share of the globe’s exports in quite a few major commodities this kind of as wheat, vegetable oil and corn.

The disruption in export flows ensuing from Russia’s invasion and global sanctions has spurred fears of a world starvation crisis, in particular across the Middle East and Africa, in which the knock-on consequences are by now participating in out.

The toll is most apparent in countries these as Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest, in which a devastating war because 2014 has sparked a person of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Foods charges there have doubled given that past yr and the point that Ukraine materials just about a 3rd of Yemen’s wheat imports has heightened fears of a deepening famine.

Mohsen Saleh, a resident of the cash Sanaa, mentioned that every year prices shoot up forward of Ramadan, “but this 12 months, they have enhanced in a nuts way, folks just can’t consider it”.

“The economic condition is very challenging,” the 43-calendar year-aged instructed AFP. “Most people in Yemen are inadequate and exhausted.”

– ‘One dish’ –

In Syria, the place a conflict considering that 2011 has plunged virtually 60 % of the population into food insecurity, Ramadan to lots of has turn into a painful reminder of better, bygone days.

Cooking oil has extra than doubled in price given that the start out of the Ukraine war and is bought in constrained quantities.

The Syrian authorities, not spared by its position as a staunch Moscow ally, is also rationing wheat, sugar and rice.

“I believed very last Ramadan was going to be our most frugal,” said Basma Shabani, a 62-year-outdated Damascus resident, searching again at a calendar year also marred by the Covid pandemic.

“But it appears to be that this yr we will clear away even extra dishes from our spread.

“We can not find the money for additional than one form of dish on our desk any more and I am anxious that in the potential even this one dish will be over and above our achieve.”

In Tunis, Ramadan traditions have also been set to the examination.

Food donations, a typical personalized during the holy month, have dropped to a trickle, with previous benefactors now battling to supply basics for them selves.

Mohamed Malek, a 20-12 months-previous scholar volunteer, has been amassing Ramadan food stuff donations for a long time.

“Our donation cart is ordinarily entire within just the hour but this calendar year this is not the scenario,” he told AFP.

“Some men and women are even telling us ‘let us uncover meals for ourselves first’.”

In Lebanon, too, neighborhood charity networks are unravelling as the Ukraine crisis piles far more stress on a population strike really hard by an unprecedented economic disaster because 2019.

“The potent solidarity which will come into motion particularly in months like Ramadan will be radically analyzed this year,” stated Bujar Hoxha, Lebanon director for Care Intercontinental.

“Hyperinflation and soaring food items price ranges in neighborhood markets make the lengthy-awaited Ramadan month for a lot of Lebanese challenging,” he informed AFP.

Quite a few will “struggle to carry iftar foods to the table”.

– ‘Big problem’ –

In Egypt, a foremost importer of wheat from the former Soviet states, Muslims are tightening their purse strings in advance of Ramadan — a time when shelling out usually rises.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in March ordered a cost cap on unsubsidised bread following the Russian invasion induced a 50 p.c increase.

The neighborhood currency also dropped 17 per cent of its benefit that same month.

“If anyone utilized to get three kilos of greens, now they’re only purchasing a single,” claimed Om Badreya, a street seller in western Cairo.

Somalia, which is grappling with an Islamist insurgency and its worst drought in 40 many years, is also gearing up for a grim Ramadan as climbing costs slash the acquiring electric power of the 15-million strong population.

Ramadan “will be considerably distinctive as gas and foods selling prices are skyrocketing”, said Mogadishu resident Adla Nur.

Even oil-prosperous Saudi Arabia is experience the pinch.

“Everything is obtaining much more expensive… every single time I pay around 20-30 riyals ($5-$8) more for the exact same solutions,” claimed Ahmad al-Assad, a 38-calendar year-previous non-public sector worker.

Qatar, nonetheless, has emerged as an exception with the government decreasing food items selling prices forward of Ramadan in a symbolic gesture.

“Prices of more than 800 commodities have been minimized in coordination with key shops in Qatar, starting off from Wednesday, March 23 until the holy month of Ramadan,” claimed Qatar’s commerce and market ministry.



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Jacqueline M. Faulkner

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