Hunger eclipsed by financial crisis on World Food Day

By Phil Stewart

ROME (Reuters) - The world’s leading crusaders against hunger voiced frustration on World Food Day on Thursday that the global financial crisis had overshadowed a food crisis tipping millions toward starvation.

The World Bank predicts that high food and fuel prices will increase the number of malnourished people in the world by 44 million this year to reach a total of 967 million.

Economists have also warned that the world’s poor would be the most vulnerable to a global economic downturn.

“The media have highlighted the financial crisis at the expense of the food crisis,” said Jacques Diouf, head of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The World Food Program’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran acknowledged that even citizens of wealthy countries had been affected by high food prices and the financial crisis.

“But for those who live on less than a dollar a day, it’s a matter of life and death,” Sheeran said.

Proponents of more urgent measures questioned why the world’s richest nations could not show the same urgency to save people from starvation as they did when rushing to rescue banks.

“My position is that the financial crisis is a serious one, and deserves urgent attention and focus, but so is the question of hunger, and millions (are) likely to die. Is that any less urgent?,” asked former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

SPECULATION, SELFISHNESS  Continued…

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