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G8 leaders urged not to forget the poor

July 08, 2009 09:59 IST

Ahead of the G-8 summit in Italy, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation has urged leaders of the top eight richest countries of the world not to forget the poor as they discuss the current global economic crisis.

WFP is calling for further support to alleviate world hunger, as the G-8 summit gathers this week in L'Aquila, Italy, to discuss the global food security crisis, UN spokeswoman, Michele Montas, told reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

It recommends a twin-track approach to food security by supporting long-term agricultural production and providing continued support for immediate hunger assistance, she said.

Meanwhile, FAO reports that the number of hungry people in the world has skyrocketed to more than one billion. Montas said FAO is calling for bold decisions from high-level political leaders at the summit and collective international action.

"The incidence of both lower incomes due to the economic crisis and persisting high food prices has proved to be a devastating combination for the world's most vulnerable populations," the agency stated in a background paper prepared for the summit, scheduled for 8 to 10 July.

"We learned a lesson last year when rising food prices caused an epidemic of hunger leading to food riots in more than 30 countries. Without food people revolt, migrate or die. None of these are acceptable options," said executive WFP director Josette Sheeran.

The Rome-based agency said that global food aid supplies last year were at a 34-year low, and food aid has dropped 35 per cent since 1995. "We cannot afford to lose a generation to malnutrition, starvation and despair," she said arguing that addressing immediate hunger needs is a critical long-term investment in healthy, stable societies.

She added that it is a 'false logic' for the world to say that it will either invest in tomorrow's agriculture or today's urgent food needs. "There is no question that we must do both," Sheeran stated.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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