January 18, 2011 in Nation/World

UN agency warns of shortfall in hunger fight

Karin Laub Associated Press
 

RAMALLAH, West Bank – The World Food Programme is nearly $3 billion short this year in its fight against global hunger, and the gap is likely to grow if food prices keep rising, the head of the U.N. agency said in an interview Monday.

Josette Sheeran said the shortfall amounts to almost half of what the agency needs.

Sheeran spoke to the Associated Press after touring the Palestinian city of Hebron, where she inspected an electronic food voucher project meant to streamline distribution of food to the needy.

The system was first tried out in the West Bank in 2009 and has since been introduced in several other places.

“Part of why I have come to the Palestinian territories is to send the message to the world that we are in a funding crisis,” Sheeran told the AP. The U.N.’s frontline agency against hunger relies on voluntary contributions from governments, corporations and individuals. The agency needs about $6 billion this year, but is about $2.8 billion short, Sheeran said.

“When people are hungry, they only have three options – they revolt, they migrate or they die,” she said, adding that it’s more cost effective to prevent hunger than to deal with its consequences.

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