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UN food aid agency appeals for $500 million to offset soaring prices

UN food aid agency appeals for $500 million to offset soaring prices

The United Nations agency that is feeding 73 million people caught up in crises around the world this year is appealing for funding to close a $500 million gap caused by a global spike in food and fuel prices.

“We urge your Government to act quickly on this request so that we may avoid cutting the rations for those who rely on the world to stand by them during times of abject need,” Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said in a letter to donors send out on 20 March.

The price of food and fuel has risen to record levels in recent years, shooting up at an aggressive pace of 55 per cent since June 2007, Ms. Sheeran noted, saying that WFP had taken many steps to mitigate the increases, including buying 80 per cent of its food supplies in local and regional markets.

Due to the sharp price rises, however, the new estimated figure to cover this year’s projects across 78 countries is $3.4 billion, which does not include unforeseen emergency operations, the agency said.

Rising prices also mean that the world’s poorest people will have to spend a larger proportion of their income on food, the agency said, and they will buy less food, food that is less nutritious, or rely on aid.

“Our efforts will include working with governments, UN agencies and other partners to address long-term solutions while we tackle these urgent needs,” Ms. Sheeran said.

Countries where price rises are expected to have a direct impact include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Haiti, Djibouti, the Gambia, Tajikistan, Togo, Chad, Benin, Myanmar, Cameroon, Niger, Senegal, Yemen and Cuba, according to WFP.