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Covid-19 has made World Food Programme difficult: UN chief

The United Nations today made a case for food for all, calling hunger “an outrage in a world of plenty.” Addressing the executive board of the World Food Programme (WEP), Secretary-General António  Guterres  said, “An empty stomach is a gaping hole in the heart of a society. A stunted child's growth in the mind is progress for her and for everyone.” Although WFP, like many other UN agencies, must work in politically charged settings, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the state of global food security, the UN chief said.

The top UN official applauded WFP for delivering food to “the most remote locations, in the most dangerous situations, in the most challenging contexts”, with enormous commitment, generosity and competence.

Hunger is an outrage in a world of plenty, he said. As 130 million more people risk being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020, the WFP will continue playing a vital role, as a provider of food, nutrition and hope.

“With human need all around, and at times with bullets and bombs shrieking through the air, you brought life-saving assistance to vulnerable people in a way that is an example for the whole world,” he said.

He underlined the important message at the heart of the decision by the Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to WFP this year, saying that “food is peace.” He expressed happiness that the agency’s “absolutely outstanding” work was being recognized.

The UN chief is building support behind his global call to silence the guns, urging combatants to unite against the coronavirus instead.

“Hunger is rising again famine is again threatening several countries”, said Guterres.

“We need food systems that provide decent and safe livelihoods,” he said, that are central to a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the ravages of the pandemic.

On climate change, the UN chief said that food systems would be “essential in bringing us to net zero and I believe that what you can do as the World Food Programme is essential,” he stated.

Guterres highlighted WFP’s “huge” financing gap of around $5 billion and called on the international community’s support.

“We need to make sure that you have the resources to be at the right place at the right time, supporting people,” Guterres told the WPP board..