World Falling Short On Emergency Food Aid

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The world is falling far short in feeding its most critically hungry, pledging only $3.7 billion of the $6.7 billion needed to fund the World Food Programme for 2009, the head of the United Nations relief agency said on July 29.

The agency has so far received only $1.8 billion and has had to cut back rations and programs to the 108 million people it serves, said Josette Sheeran, its executive director.

The cutbacks will have a “destabilizing” impact in parts of the world reeling from dramatically higher food prices and less income due to the global financial crisis, Sheeran said.

“There’s nothing more basic than food. If people don’t have it, one of three things happen: they revolt, they migrate or they die,” Sheeran said.

More than 1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry, up from 860 million two years ago. The WFP helps feed those deemed most desperate – about 10 percent of the total.

When food prices soared to record levels last year, prompting riots and hoarding in some countries, the WFP raised a record $5 billion in donations – about $2 billion more than in 2007 – to help feed 102 million people in 78 countries.

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