Monday, October 17, 2005

UN sees no need for hunger

The world has enough resources to feed its growing population if political leaders can get past "short-term interests", the head of the UN's food agency says.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Senegalese director, Jacques Diouf, has made the comments to mark World Food Day.

"Today the world has the resources and technology to produce sufficient quantities of food not only to meet the demand of a growing population, but also to bring an end to hunger and poverty," Mr Diouf said.

He adds that he "dares to hope" that politicians would "make decisions based on the social harmony of a world of solidarity and peace, not on short-term interests that can lead to injustice and social unrest".

The United Nations estimates that 852 million people worldwide went without enough food in 2004.

That is a rise of 10 million over the previous year, which indicates that food crises have become more frequent around the world.

Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, says every day some 100,000 people die of malnutrition.

"The right to food is a human right," stated the special rapporteur, who will present his full report to the UN in New York on October 27.

The chronic lack of food in sub-Saharan Africa is particularly worrying, with over a third of the region's population now considered malnourished.

The numbers of underfed soared from 88 million 1999 to 200 million in 2001.

Mr Ziegler complains that while the 191 countries in the UN spent a trillion dollars on arms in 2004, they reduced their donations to international organisations.

This year, the coffers of the World Food Program (WFP) were $290 million down, while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees needed an extra $241 million to run his operations properly.

The WFP has had to reduce food rations for thousands of refugees over the past few months, particularly in west Africa and the east African Great Lakes region, to well below the 2,100 calories needed for survival.

By Feed the World 17 October 05


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