Global perspective Human stories

UN food agency, Nigerian leader urge G-8 to focus on child hunger in Africa

UN food agency, Nigerian leader urge G-8 to focus on child hunger in Africa

The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo today called for greater efforts to eradicate child hunger and malnutrition in Africa, ahead of next month's summit of the leaders of the world's richest countries in Scotland.

President Obasanjo and WFP Executive Director James Morris, who is also the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on the Humanitarian Situation in southern Africa, held talks today in Rome during the WFP's Executive Board meeting.

The Nigerian president also addressed the Board and expressed his support for the agency's operations in Africa, where it currently provides food aid to more than 35 million people, including victims of conflict, natural disasters and many millions more who are simply too poor to provide for themselves or their families.

President Obasanjo will be attending the G-8 summit of the world's leading industrialized countries in Gleneagles, Scotland, which is being hosted by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The Prime Minister is expected to use the occasion to gather support for his Africa Initiative and the campaign to "Make Poverty History."

Mr. Morris welcomed the spotlight the G-8 summit was placing on Africa. He also paid tribute to the European Union's pledge last week to double its development aid, as well as Tuesday's announcement by the United States and the United Kingdom of a major boost in aid to the victims of hunger and other humanitarian crises in Africa.

"We all believe that in the lead-up to this summit, substantial attention must be paid to hunger and malnutrition, particularly among young children," Mr. Morris said. "That is the message I have asked President Obasanjo to give to the G-8 summit, and he could not possibly be more supportive."