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WFP urges G8 leaders support for world's poorest
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18:53, July 07, 2009

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The World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday lauded the G8 leader's focus on food security and urged support for hunger needs of the world's poorest.

In a statement issued as leaders at the G8 summit in L'Aquila gather to discuss global food security, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran called for a twin-track approach to food security, supporting long-term agricultural production with continued support for immediate hunger assistance.

"We applaud the G8 focus on food security," Sheeran said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "We learned a lesson last year when rising food prices caused an epidemic of hunger leading to food riots in more than 30 countries. Without food people revolt, migrate or die. None of these are acceptable options."

In figures released two weeks ago by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of hungry people is now projected to top 1.02 billion, and with the global economic crisis compounding the ongoing food price crisis in the developing world, causing loss of jobs, remittances and slowed exports and investment, this number is expected to climb further.

According to WFP, this reverses a four-decade trend where the number of hungry has declined. At the same time, global food aid supplies last year were at a 34-year low and 18 percent lower than that in 2005. Food aid has dropped by 35 percent since 1995.

"We cannot afford to lose a generation to malnutrition, starvation and despair," said Sheeran. "Addressing immediate hunger needs is a critical long-term investment in healthy, stable societies."

The agency depends entirely on voluntary donations, and has raised less than one quarter of its 6.4 billion million U.S. dollars budget for 2009 at the halfway point of the year.

"WFP is the safety net for the most vulnerable people in the world," Sheeran said. "It's a false logic for the world to say that we will either invest in tomorrow's agriculture or today's urgent food needs. There is no question that we must do both."


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