Ramadan begins in much of the Middle East amid rising food prices

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began at sunrise Saturday in much of the Middle East, where an invasion from Russia or Ukraine has driven up food and energy prices, reported the PA.

Driving the news: Muslim-majority countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, had announced that Ramadan, when many dawn-to-dusk fasts, would start on Saturday morning.

  • Many in Indonesia planned to start observing on Sunday, as did some Shiites in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.
  • Jordan, a predominantly Sunni country, also declared the first day of Ramadan to be Sunday, per AP.

The big picture: The start of Ramadan comes as the United Nations has warned that “people’s resilience [in the Middle East and North Africa] is at breaking point” due to soaring prices of staple foods in the import-dependent region.

  • “We are extremely concerned about the millions of people in this region who are already struggling to access enough food due to a toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the economic consequences of Covid-19,” Corinne said. Fleischer, regional manager of the United Nations World Food Programme. Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.
  • “This crisis is creating shock waves in food markets that affect every household in this region. No one is spared.”

By the numbers: The cost of a basic food basket, the minimum food needs per family per month, has risen 351% in Lebanon, the highest in the region, according to the UN.

  • Syria saw a 97% increase in costs and Yemen an 81% increase.

Between the lines: “Even before the conflict in Ukraine, inflation and rising prices put basic foodstuffs out of reach for the most vulnerable.

Go further: Soaring wheat prices set to sow more suffering

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