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Funding For Africa Could 'Answer Prayers'

Increased US/UK Crisis Funding For Africa Could 'Answer Millions Of Prayers' - Un Official

New York, Jun 9 2005

Just back from a tour of southern African countries crippled by drought, HIV/AIDS and plummeting government services, the head of the United Nations food relief agency praised the so-called "Bush-Blair" initiative, which could dramatically increase the amount of aid for victims of such humanitarian crises on that continent.

"Additional funds from the United States for the World Food Programme's work in Africa will answer the prayers of millions of hungry mothers and children" said James Morris, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). "It comes just in time to avert massive loss of life from hunger, especially in Ethiopia and Eritrea."

This past Tuesday United States President George Bush and United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair called on the international community for increased emergency funding for "people in acute need in many parts of Africa," with the US specifically pledging approximately $674 million of additional resources, and the UK pledging some $300 million.

Before the announcement, the WFP was nearly $1 billion short of its $2 billion target for relief operations in Africa this year. According to the agency, its country directors in Sudan, Burundi and Sierra Leone have faced a "heart-wrenching choice" of cutting either the number of people receiving food relief or the size of the rations.

In addition to the dollar increase in aid, Mr. Morris was sanguine about the increased concern over hunger Africa shown by the US and UK leaders.

"They understand how crucial it is to fight hunger if we are to succeed in the other Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty, cutting child and maternal mortality, promoting education for all children, empowering children and combating AIDS," he said.

In his role as special envoy of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for humanitarian needs in southern Africa, Mr. Morris just completed and 11-day tour of the region that included stops in Zambia, Swaziland, Malawi, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, where he saw the deadly inter-relationship of hunger, AIDS, and low government capacity.

"People across Africa are telling us they can't fight HIV on an empty stomach. As more and more people receive antiretroviral treatment, thanks to donations from G-8 countries, we hope that they and their families will have the food they need to stay healthy," he said.


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