WORLD FOOD DAY: WFP WARNS OF "DARFUR EFFECT" ON FORGOTTEN HUNGRY
ROME - The United Nations World Food Programme today marked the occasion of World Food Day by highlighting the plight of hundreds of millions of hungry people around the world whose problems are overshadowed by high-profile emergencies such as the current crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
In an article circulated to newspapers around the world, WFP Executive Director James Morris emphasised his concern for the victims of Darfur, who he said have suffered horrific ordeals and lived through the kind of brutality that few in the developed world could even begin to imagine.
"Their plight has shocked the world. Whatever other people call it - genocide, ethnic cleansing, conquest or orchestrated violence - we all know what has been happening in Darfur and we are united in our determination to protect these people and meet their humanitarian needs," Morris said.
But he also stressed that for every hungry child who made world news headlines, there were millions more who went unnoticed. "When was the last time we read about hungry children in Azerbaijan, Guinea, Sri Lanka or Tajikistan?" Morris said, adding that occasions like World Food Day gave the 800 million chronically hungry people scattered around the globe a rare chance to be noticed, if only for a few brief moments.
"We know that all the hungry people in the world matter equally. But the reality is that the victims of Darfur now stand a better chance of receiving enough food aid than the hungry of, for example, Peru," Morris said. "In effect, we are starving Peter to save Paul."
WFP offices around the world are today calling for a new focus on the "routine hungry", the people left without enough food, not because of natural disasters or conflict, but simply because they are too poor to provide for themselves and their families. These people - who make up more than 90 percent of the world's hungry - are hit even harder when high-profile emergencies take up the bulk of donor aid budgets.
Recalling the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) adopted by the UN General Assembly - to halve the number of hungry people in the world by 2015 - Morris noted that the number of hungry people outside China had actually gone up since the MDGs were adopted, while the volume of food aid had fallen from 15 million tons worldwide in 1999 to 10 million tons in 2003.
"We can break this spiral," Morris said. "There is already enough food in the world for everyone. It's a question of will and determination, not just on World Food Day, but tomorrow, the next day and over the years to come."
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.
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