Warning "the worst is yet to come," a top United Nations relief official has called on the international community to do more to battle hunger in the face of skyrocketing food emergencies and a steep drop in global food aid.
"We are losing the battle against hunger," James T. Morris, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said yesterday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of a four-day visit to Washington, D.C.
"Not only are we losing the battle in emergencies like those in Afghanistan, North Korea and Africa, where we often lack the funds needed, we are losing the battle against the chronic hunger that bedevils the lives of hundreds of millions of families who are not the victims of war or natural disasters," he added.
Citing a lack of political will as the main culprit, Mr. Morris stressed that there were really no obstacles to prevent the international community from ending hunger soon. "There is more than enough food worldwide," he said. "People are hungry because governments have made the wrong political choices."
The WFP chief called for stronger and more consistent funding for humanitarian aid. "While the WFP funding has risen, global food aid has not," he noted. "In fact during the last three years it has actually dropped by a third, from 15 million to 10 million metric tons. Emergency food aid needs are up and food aid is down. More funds are essential."
Mr. Morris also called for more funding to feed children at school and stressed the importance of good nutrition in helping to ward off infections in AIDS victims and keeping them productive as long as possible, especially in Africa where the pandemic has wreaked havoc on food security.
"In many poor communities, the first thing AIDS victims ask for is not medicine, not money, but food for their families, food for their hungry children," he said.
Mr. Morris is scheduled to take his message tomorrow to the House International Relations Committee, reminding them that with more than 800 million people in the world chronically hungry, rising food aid emergencies mean "the worst is yet to come."