Knives and Forks With a Hidden Message Were Sent to World Leaders in Paris
By Andy Gregory
As world leaders gathered at the Paris Peace Forum this week, they received an unexpected gift — with a hidden message.
Over 200 sets of knives and forks were sent to leaders by Action Against Hunger, that were in fact created out of melted-down bullets from conflict zones — and it was all to raise awareness about hunger being used as a weapon of war.
It’s part of the #StopHungerCrime campaign, which aims to provoke world leaders into holding those committing war crimes — in Yemen, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo — to account.
“These seemingly everyday sets of cutlery are forged from a means of inflicting pain that we’re far more familiar with hearing about from the international community; bullets,” said the charity’s executive director Jean-Michel Grand, in a statement provided to Global Citizen.
“These brutal and domestic objects, familiar yet unsettlingly heavy, carry a powerful message about a largely unseen weapon that is used to cause suffering in conflicts across the world,” he added.
Grand said that while hunger is often seen as a consequence of war, people are less aware about hunger and starvation being used as a weapon in themselves — a tactic that Grand described as “medieval.”
“Potentially deep in our psyche it’s difficult for us to admit and believe that such tactics are still in use and not strongly condemned by the international community and the UN Security Council,” he continued. “It looks almost like we are back to the Middle Ages.”
A recent example is the conflict in Yemen — where blockades and airstrikes on the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah have contributed to driving millions into the risk of famine.
Hodeidah is Yemen’s third-largest city but, most importantly, it’s a vital gateway into the country. Up to 80% of the country’s imports of food, medicines, and aid shipments go through the city.
So lives depend on the city staying open. In October, the UN warned that if Saudi Arabi-led airstrikes continued, Yemen could be just three months away from facing the world’s worst famine in 100 years.
Hodeidah was also one of the country’s ports that were totally sealed off by the Saudi-led coalition in November 2017, in what the coalition said was an attempt to stop the alleged flow of weapons to the Houthi rebels from Iran — but was widely criticised for pushing a further 3.2 million people into hunger.
After years of decline, global hunger levels are now the same as they were a decade ago, having increased annually since 2015. According to a UN report in September, 821 million people – one-ninth of the global population – are undernourished.
“Wars and conflicts are driving hunger in a way we’ve never seen before,” World Food Programme (WFP) director David Beasley told the UN Security Council in March.
Meanwhile, a report from WFP in October showed that 60% of the world’s hungry people live in conflict zones, while climate events and economic downturns are other major drivers of food insecurity.
A positive step was taken in May last year, however, when the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2417 — condemning the starving of civilians as a method of warfare and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access.
Grand sees the resolution as an encouraging starting point. He said, however, that significant improvements now heavily depend on how the Security Council acts to implement the resolution and hold parties to account for violations.
He hopes that a large social media response to #StopHungerCrime — which asks people to post images of themselves on social media, holding up cutlery in the shape of a cross — will put pressure on governments and the UN to take decisive action.