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Global walk to end child hunger

ROME The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partner TNT, global provider of express, logistics and mail services, are teaming up with a glittering array of well-known figures for a second consecutive year - to show how one collective footstep can transform the lives of the world's poorest children.

On Sunday, June 12, 2005, more than 200,000 people - WFP and TNT staff, partners, families and friends are expected to join in the battle against child hunger and walk five kilometers (just over three miles) in over 90 countries across 24 time zones.

Last year's first ‘Walk the World' event raised enough money in 72 countries to fund meals for over 30,000 school children in the developing world. This year Fight Hunger: Walk the World a global advocacy and fund raising event, aims to raise over 2 million Euros (or more than US$2.5 million) for WFP's global school feeding programme, moving one step closer to permanently eradicating child hunger.

In over 200 cities, the event will remind people of the heartrending fact that in a world which produces more than enough food for everyone, some 18,000 children die of hunger daily. Another 300 million children suffer chronic hunger; 100 million do not attend school.

Beginning at 10am in Auckland, New Zealand WFP and TNT --with the help of a wide variety of private and public partners, celebrities and public figures--are walking the world - from Sydney to Santiago, from Moscow to Los Angeles - in order to put the spotlight on hunger, which kills a child every 5 seconds.

The walks are as diverse as their locations: in Rome, where WFP is headquartered, the Mayor will open the event and lead walkers through the ancient ruins, including around the Colosseum. In Montreal the event coincides with the Grand Prix du Canada: a group of 20 VIPs, including the Mayor of Montreal, famous athletes and artists, will follow the flag parade which takes place minutes before the final Grand Prix race. In Africa, around 100,000 school children will walk against hunger in Malawi, while across the continent, the first post-conflict walks are planned for Sierra Leone and Liberia. In Cairo, Walk the World will cover the 3km to the Pyramids and in New York, walkers will congregate at the Hunger Memorial. Elephants will be helping to stamp out hunger in New Delhi, by leading the walkers. Hot on the tail of last year's Olympics, the Athens walk will be led by a European Champion athlete. In Lisbon the event will be preceded by a run led by Kenyan world champion marathon runner, Paul Tergat, a former school feeding beneficiary. Colombo will again walk in an event made more poignant by the tsunami last December.
WFP is encouraging those wishing to step in and Fight Hunger: Walk the World by joining a walk, by pledging money to a participant, or by donating money through www.fighthunger.org. Not only is there information about Walk the World events, but also about independent walks joining our efforts, creating a global map of action. And it's not just where physical walkers are gathering - there is also a "virtual walk" - each time someone visits the site for the first time, enters their email address and clicks, TNT donates 19 US cents needed to feed a child for one day - so if you can't walk on June 12, join the online walk by visiting the site.

WFP's global school feeding project which last year provided one meal a day to 16.6 million primary school children in 72 countries, aims to reach 50 million in 2007. All too often children - particularly girls - are deprived of education because their families cannot afford to send their children to school. Yet educating girls is one of the best ways of escaping the cycle of poverty and hunger.

"In a world where war and disaster spawn countless human tragedies which compete for attention, the silent plight of the hungry - especially children, the world's future - is an urgent call we must all answer," said James Morris, WFP Executive Director. "This walk is as important as it is inspiring to our mission to end hunger."

"With its exceptional generosity in logistics and transport, as well as advocacy on behalf of the hungry, TNT has made an immeasurable contribution to WFP's fight against world hunger," said Morris. "This partnership is a brilliant example of the private sector putting its people, resources and expertise to work to ease the suffering of so many of our fellow human beings."

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.

Visit our website : www.wfp.org

For more information please contact:

Ramin Rafirasme,
WFP Walk the World Communications Coordinator,
Tel. +39-06-6513 2684,
Mob + 39 335 843 2961
email: ramin.rafirasme@wfp.org

José Driessen,
TNT Group Media Relations,
Tel +31 20 500 6238,
Mob: +31 6 13 73 37 83
email: Jose.driessen@tnt.com

Brenda Barton,
Deputy Director Communications,
WFP/Rome,
Tel. +39-06-65132602,
Mob. +39-3472582217

Christiane Berthiaume,
WFP/Geneva,
Tel. +41-22-9178564,
Mob. +41-792857304

Trevor Rowe,
WFP/New York,
Tel. +1-212-9635196,
Mob. +1-6468241112,
rowe@un.org

Gregory Barrow,
WFP/London,
Tel. +44-20-75929292,
Mob. +44-7968-008474