The head of the African Union (AU), Macky Sall, has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Africa was “at the mercy” of the war in Ukraine.

Putin on Friday hosted Sall, who is also Senegal’s President and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU Commission, in the southern Russian city of Sochi.

More than 44% of wheat consumed in countries on the continent comes from Russia and Ukraine, according to UN figures. Wheat prices have soared around 45% as a result of the supply disruption, according to the African Development Bank.

The UN has warned that 18 million people are facing severe hunger in the Sahel, the part of Africa just below the Sahara Desert where farmers are facing their worst agricultural production in more than a decade.

Another 13 million people face severe hunger in the Horn of Africa region as a result of a persistent drought.

The global food crisis will worsen “because the British and Americans have imposed sanctions on our fertilizers,” Russian President Putin said after meeting Sall.

Russia blamed Western sanctions, which were hitting its own grain and fertilizer exports because of the impact on shipping, banking, and insurance.

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