WASHINGTON – The president of the World Bank on Sunday urged immediate action to deal with mounting food prices that have caused hunger and deadly violence in several countries.
Robert Zoellick said the international community has “to put our money where our mouth is” and act now to help hungry people. “It is as stark as that.”
He called on governments to rapidly carry out commitments to provide the U.N. World Food Program with $500 million in emergency aid it needs by May 1.
He said the bank is granting an additional $10 million to Haiti for feeding programs, “and I understand others are looking to help.”
“It is critical that governments confirm their commitments as soon as possible and others begin to commit,” Zoellick said. Prices have only risen further since the WFP issued that appeal, so it is urgent that governments step up, he said.
After a meeting of the bank’s policy-setting committee, Zoellick said that the fall of the government in Haiti over the weekend after a wave of deadly rioting and looting over food prices underscores the importance of quick international action. A U.N. police officer was killed Saturday in Haiti’s capital.
“This is not just a question of short term needs, as important as they are,” Zoellick said. “This is about ensuring that future generations don’t pay a price too.”
Zoellick spoke as the bank and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, wound up two days of meetings that dealt with the financial crises roiling global markets and rising food and energy prices.