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Despite generous donations from the international community millions of people will still wake up today -- World Food Day -- hungry. In fact, the UN World Food Programme faces the highest global food aid needs in its 40 year history.
Among the people who will go hungry today are hundreds of thousands of Liberians, as aid agencies are still unable to reach more than half of the country. Another 300,000 people struck by drought in Eritrea and countless others across southern Africa will receive less than a full ration from WFP. In Teso District, Uganda, rebel violence has delayed the delivery of emergency food aid to 292,000 internally displaced people. Next month, 680,000 elderly people and care givers in North Korea will have their food rations slashed.
And in Haiti, 6,000 people suffering from HIV/AIDS who lack nutritious food to help them cope with the disease will not receive food aid today because no funds have been donated to kick-off the project.
This year, WFP needs more than US$4.3 billion to feed almost 110 million people. Contributions still fall short by US$600 million, almost 15 percent.
“It is simply unacceptable in this day and age that hunger and malnutrition remains the number one cause of death world wide,” said James T. Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “Millions are counting on us to remind the world of their daily struggle, and the best way for them to be heard is for all of us to speak with one loud voice.”
The theme for this year’s World Food Day is the “International Alliance Against Hunger”. World leaders pledged to halve the number of hungry people -- almost 800 million in the developing world -- by 2015. But progress towards that goal is stymied by historically low levels of investment in agricultural development.
“Clearly, no single organization can solve world hunger. Its causes are incredibly complex, and its solution requires more than food aid alone,” said Morris. “All of us -- individuals, businesses, non-governmental organizations and governments -- have a deep responsibility to join the campaign to end hunger.”
This year, WFP has broadened its alliance with a variety of partners -- from the business sector, to well-known personalities and international sports figures. The joining of forces with partners like TPG, the Dutch mail and logistics giant, has boosted WFP’s efforts to better reach the hungry in countries across the globe.
WFP has also teamed up with the Rugby World Cup 2003, which started last week in Australia. Through website TACKLEHUNGER.COM and other venues, the issue of hunger will be conveyed to the Cup’s 3.5 billion viewers. Musicians Keiko Matsui (Japan) and Cesaria Evora (Cape Verde) have both dedicated songs and record royalties for the hungry.
Partnerships with our traditional allies -- the NGO community, UN agencies and governments -- are stronger than ever. Working with the governments of the G8 and NEPAD, WFP plans to get 30 million African children who are not currently attending class into school.
And every day, more than 1,200 NGOs and a host of UN agencies work alongside WFP to help deliver food aid.
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