The Irish Times view on the Ukraine war: Hitting the poorest

Effects of Russian invasion are already being felt as far away as Sierra Leone and Ghana

'War in Ukraine means hunger in Africa, " International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva has warned. The interdependence of Africa's vulnerable economies, now intimately connected in the global commodity trading system, has the continent by the throat.

And the effects of the Russian invasion are already being felt as far away as Sierra Leone and Ghana as oil price hikes squeeze struggling economies. In the latter, the cost of a litre of fuel has gone up 6.4 cedis (79c) to 10 cedis (€1.23) a litre in just a few weeks.

Ukraine's plight and the three million refugees who have already left it is also adding to the volatility of world markets

The effect on oil prices is just the start. Ukraine and Russia together produce nearly a quarter of the world's wheat, feeding billions of people in the form of bread, pasta and packaged foods. That represents almost 90 per cent of Kenya's wheat imports and the same in Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Somalia, already suffering from a devastating drought. The real test will come in four months when the next wheat harvest begins; it is inconceivable that war-ravaged Ukraine will be even partially capable of meeting demand. Rising hunger and political instability are inevitable. Egypt, for example, which has regularly experienced bread riots in recent years, has enough grain reserves and domestically-produced wheat to last the country only until November.

Ukraine’s plight and the three million refugees who have already left it is also adding to the volatility of world markets and putting upward pressure on interest rates which, in turn, will force African governments to spend more to service their high debts and squeeze essential spending on health care, education and investment.

It is also putting huge pressure on an already shrinking pot of international aid and deflecting desperately needed attention from major "forgotten" conflicts still in desperate need of international assistance. In war-torn Yemen the chief executive of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, has warned: "We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving". Ukraine is already a world war.