Saudi Arabia gives 500 million dollars to world food appeal
May 24, 2008
Saudi Arabia has donated half a billion dollars (317 million euros) to a UN World Food Programme appeal to battle the global food price crisis, helping it reach a 755 million dollar goal, the WFP said Friday.
“The World Food Programme has met its extraordinary call for 755 million dollars to compensate for the increased costs of food and fuel with a 500 million dollar donation from The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said a statement.
The WFP, which operates in 78 countries and helps feed an estimated 73 million people, launched the 755 million dollar emergency appeal in March. It said 31 countries had given 460 million dollars before the Saudi donation came in on Thursday.
The agency said “high food prices represent the biggest challenge that WFP has faced in its 45-year history with about 130 million being pushed into hunger.”
WFP executive director Josette Sheeran said the money would help offset food and fuel costs that have risen dramatically over the past year and secure much-needed food programmes in Africa and other parts of the world.
“The Saudi donation will keep many people from dying, others from slipping into malnutrition and disease, and will even help to stave off civil unrest,” Sheeran said.
The agency said the Saudi donation puts the Arab oil power “at the forefront of the large-scale, high-level, multilateral UN action by the global community.”
The WFP said it “will be able to continue to provide food for millions of children enrolled in school and therapeutic feeding programmes in Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia and Somalia and in many other critical hunger zones.”
Global food prices have nearly doubled in three years, according to the World Bank, sparking riots in Egypt and Haiti, protests in other countries and restrictions on food exports from Brazil, Vietnam, India and Egypt.
Rising use of biofuels, trade restrictions, increased demand from Asia to serve changing diets, poor harvests and increasing transport costs have all been blamed for the price rise.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick has said two billion people across the world are struggling with high food prices, and 100 million people in poor countries may be pushed deeper into poverty by the crisis.
“We turned to the world to help the hungry and the world has been generous,” said Sheeran:
“This is an example of what humanitarians around the world can do when we come together to address problems that affect us all.”
The WFP had appealed for 755 million dollars to cover the high costs of food and fuel which have risen dramatically since June 2007.
“Donors have been responding overwhelmingly, with 31 countries donating a collective 460 million dollars to date, and now Saudi Arabia closing the gap,” said the statement.
“The 500 million dollars from Saudi Arabia rounds out the appeal, and leaves an additional 214 million dollars available for other urgent hunger needs.”