Two people hold cutlery near empty plates on table
Two people hold cutlery near empty plates on table. Credit: Prostock-Studio

Charity’s conflict café leaves guests hungry for action

We recently held Action Against Hunger’s Conflict Café to highlight the impact of conflict on global food insecurity and supply.

The pop-up served a scaled-back ‘menu’ to influencers, journalists, MPs, peers, and Foreign Commonwealth and Development Officials at a time when over 85% of people facing hunger crises live in conflict-affected countries.

We launched our Conflict Café in conjunction with The Cinnamon Club in Westminster, with the goal of subverting a restaurant experience and laying bare the challenge of dealing with the intersecting crises of conflict and hunger. A range of guests including Jimi Famurewa, London Evening Standard’s restaurant critic; Antony Amordoux from Great British Bake Off; as well as MPs and FCDO staff joined for breakfast with a difference to support our campaign to break the cycle between conflict and hunger.

Upon arrival, guests were greeted by a room full of empty plates and cutlery made of recycled bullets from countries where conflict is the biggest driver of hunger. According to our recent report, No Matter Who’s Fighting, Hunger Always Wins, conflict and violence threaten food security for 85% of 258 million people across 58 countries. The event coincided with the fifth anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2417, which recognises the deadly link between conflict and hunger. Despite this, conflict-related hunger is tragically still on the rise.

The range of dishes that were “off menu” included a fantastic summer salad, the ingredients of which were unavailable due to suppliers not being able to make deliveries and access their fields, as they had been seized by local militia groups.

Similarly, the ingredients for homemade lentil soup and okra were impacted by a market bombing – the result: low supplies and prices shooting up. The cracked wheat tabbouleh also failed to make it from the farm to the plate due to skyrocketing prices caused by port blockades. Finally, locally made sorbets were planned for dessert, but water towers had been destroyed by shelling, preventing their production.

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These are the realities that communities are facing around the world, including in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen – all countries facing protracted conflict or insecurity, with 376,400 people experiencing famine-like conditions (according to Phase 5 of the IPC’s famine guidelines) in 2022. Furthermore, a staggering 258 million people faced acute food insecurity and required urgent humanitarian assistance last year.

Conflict remains the leading cause of acute hunger worldwide. In many conflicts, siege tactics are increasingly depriving people of the basic means of survival including humanitarian support, and civilians are becoming the targets of violent attacks, including the deliberate burning of crops, the bombing of markets and water infrastructure, and the mining of agricultural land.

The report details the ways that acts of violence drive hunger and offers recommendations for how parties to the conflict and UN member states can reduce conflict-driven hunger and invest in peacebuilding to prevent food insecurity.

If we hope to break the cycle of conflict and hunger, world leaders must commit to Resolution 2417 to tackle conflict-driven hunger; this condemns using starvation as a weapon of war and unlawfully denying humanitarian access to civilians in need of assistance. Our fight against hunger is also a fight for peace. Of the 45 million people globally who are on the brink of famine, around 70% of them have been driven there by conflict. We cannot achieve sustainable peace when millions face the injustice of starvation.