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One billion people go hungry, says Oxfam

©

Latest update : 2008-10-16

The financial crisis has sent food prices skyrocketing, pushing almost a billion people into hunger, British charity Oxfam said in an appeal to mark UN World Food Day on Thursday.

Oxfam launched an urgent appeal to mark UN World Food Day Thursday, saying the financial crisis had sent food costs soaring and the global total of people in hunger to nearly one billion people.
   
The British-based aid and development charity said rising food prices had pushed an extra 119 million people into hunger, meaning 967 million people were now living below the hunger line.
   
In "Double Edged Prices", a report being launched in London, Oxfam argued that the increase in food costs had seen some international companies quadruple their profits while the world's poor were pushed further into destitution.
   
Oxfam said it needed an extra 15 million pounds (26.2 million dollars, 19.3 million euros) to fund its development and humanitarian work on food and agriculture, and to campaign for changes to "flawed trade and agricultural polices" afflicting poor farmers.
   
"These are tough times for many of us, but huge increases in food prices mean that the world’s poorest are being hit hardest," said Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking, saying anything people could give would make a difference.
   
Oxfam slammed the international community's response to the food problem, comparing the 12.3 billion dollars pledged in Rome earlier this year -- and the one billion dollars it said has been disbursed so far -- to the vast sums made available in days to bail out Western banks.
   
The charity said higher food prices meant people were eating less and lower quality food, while children were being pulled out of school and farmers were migrating to city slums.
   
In "Double Edged Prices", Oxfam said all governments, donors and agencies had to learn lessons from the financial crisis and invest in agriculture, adopt trade policies that ensure food security, and design social security systems that protect the poorest.
   
"The trend in agriculture, as in international finance, has been towards deregulation and a reduced role for the state," Stocking said.
   
"This has had devastating effects and innocent lives have been blighted by exposure to market volatility.
   
"It is time the world woke up to the need for developing country governments to support their poor farmers, and the obligation of developed countries to help them to do so.
   
"Where there has been unmanaged trade liberalisation, underinvestment in agriculture, and little support from government, the effects have been devastating."
 

Date created : 2008-10-16

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