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WFP looks to new EU member states to join battle against world hunger

ROME - While countries worldwide are reacting with unprecedented generosity and support in the wake of a tsunami that left millions in Asia without food or shelter, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is calling on new European Union member states to join WFP in a campaign against world hunger especially among children during a two day meeting that starts today.

The number of hungry is on the rise after decades of decline, even as donor countries have cut back on food aid, from 15 million metric tons to just 10 million metric tons last year.

WFP's two day conference at its headquarters in Rome "Expanding Partnerships: New EU Member States and WFP"- will highlight the agency's emergency response capabilities and discuss with participants areas of potential cooperation, from logistics to get food delivered in emergencies, to funding targeted at WFP special projects such as school feeding and AIDS/nutrition programs in sub Saharan Africa.

"We are delighted to share ideas with new EU member nations. Many are no strangers to providing assistance to WFP already," said James Morris, WFP's Executive Director, who is opening the conference on 13 January at WFP's headquarters in Rome.

"During this crucial meeting we will discuss ways to deepen and expand partnerships with countries that will not only become significant donors to overseas development aid as their economies expand, but can offer great expertise in areas of great interest to WFP's operations," added Morris.

The ten new member states include Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Attending the conference will be officials from foreign ministries and ministries of agriculture.

Within the European Union framework, the new member states are committed to increase spending on overseas development aid (ODA) to equal 0.39 percent of their Gross National Income. As post-communist countries that emerged in 1989 from decades of totalitarianism and central planning become more affluent, surveys indicate that their populations back their governments on ODA initiatives.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.

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.

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For more information please contact (email address:

Brenda Barton,
Deputy Director Communications,
Tel. +39-06-65132602

Selma Kalousek,
Tel. + 06-6513-3615,
Mob. +348-145-8748

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

Christiane Berthiaume,
Tel. +41-22-9178564,
Mob. +41-79-2857304

Trevor Rowe,
Tel. +1-212-9635196,
Mob. +1-646-8241112