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Billions needed to prevent unrest, famine: UN food director

UN: Without billions of dollars more to feed millions of hungry people, the world will see massive migration, destabilized nations, children and adults starving to death within The next 12 to 18 months, the head of the United Nations World Food Program, a Nobel laureate, warned on Friday (March 31).

David Beasley praised the increase in funding from the United States and Germany last year, and urged China, Gulf states, billionaires and other nations to “step up the time.”

In an interview ahead of handing US ambassador Cindy McCain to run the world’s largest humanitarian organization next week, the former South Carolina governor said he was “extremely worried” that the WFP would not mobilize. about the $23 billion this organization needs this year to help an estimated 350 million people in 49 countries in dire need of food,

“Right at this stage, I would be surprised if we get 40% of that, quite frankly,” he said.

WFP, he said, fell into a similar crisis last year, but fortunately, he managed to convince the US to increase its funding from about $3.5 billion to $7.4 billion and Germany to increase its contribution from around $3.5 billion to $7.4 billion. $350 million a few years ago to $1.7 billion, but he doesn’t think they’ll do it again this year.

Other countries, he said, need to step up now, starting with China, the world’s second-largest economy that provided WFP just $11 million last year.

Beasley applauded China’s success in significantly reducing hunger and poverty at home, but said the country contributed one cent less per person last year than the United States, the world’s top economy. world, contributed about $22 per person last year.

China needs to “engage in the multilateral world” and is willing to provide important help, he said. “They have a moral obligation to do so.”

Beasley said they’ve done “an incredible job of feeding their people” and “now we need their help in other parts of the world” for how they did it. that, especially in poorer countries including Africa.

With high oil prices, Gulf states can also do more, especially Muslim countries with ties to countries in eastern Africa, the Sahara and elsewhere in the Middle East, he said and expressed hope they will increase their contributions.

Beasley said the wealthiest billionaires have made unprecedented profits during the COVID-19 pandemic and “it’s not exaggerated to ask a few billionaires to join hands and help us during the short-term crisis.” ”, although philanthropy is not a long-term solution to the food crisis.

In the long run, he said, what he really wants to see is for billionaires to use their experience and success to tap into “the world’s greatest need – food on the planet to feed 8 people.” billion people”.

“The world has to understand that the next 12 to 18 months are critical, and if we pull out funding, you’re going to have mass migration, and you’re going to have unstable countries and it’s all going to lead to hunger for children and people around the world,” he warned.

Beasley said the WFP has just been forced to cut the rations for 4 million people in Afghanistan by 50%, and “these are the people who are knocking on the door of hunger”.

“We don’t have enough money right now to reach the most vulnerable,” he said. “So we’re in crisis at the cliff stage right now, where we could really have hell on earth if we’re not careful.”

Beasley said he has told leaders in the West and Europe that while they are focusing everything on Ukraine and Russia, “you better not forget what’s in your south and southeast. because I can assure you it will come to you if you don’t.” don’t pay attention and go above it”.

With $400 trillion worth of assets on the planet, he said, there’s no reason for any child to starve.

The WFP executive said leaders must prioritize humanitarian needs that will have the greatest impact on the stability of societies around the world.

He pointed to several priority locations – the Sahel region of Africa as well as the east including Somalia, northern Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia; Syria is having an impact on Jordan and Lebanon; and Central and South America, where five times as many people immigrate to the United States today as a year and a half ago.

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