UN welcomes donations to relieve world food crisis
The United Nations on Friday welcomed contributions from some of the world's richest countries to help ease the global food crisis, including a whopping 500 million dollars from Saudi Arabia to the World Food Programme (WFP), the dpa reported.
The Saudi contribution and those of other countries are expected to fill WFP's request for an additional 755 million dollars to make up for the gap in funding for its programmes in 2008 already set at 4.3 billion dollars. The requested additional funds are to meet rising food prices around the world.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a message welcoming the Saudi contribution, calling it "unprecedented in size and generosity, which comes not a moment too soon, given the needs of millions of people dependent on food rations."
The government of Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Friday gave 47.8 million dollars to WFP, 85 per cent of which will go to 10 African countries with the most severe food shortage while the rest will go to Afghanistan and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The 10 African countries are Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Central AFrican Republic, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho and Swaziland.
WFP appealed for the additional funds in April, saying that the emergency food stocks maintained by countries around the world are at their lowest levels in 30 years, which contributed to the surge in global food prices.
The surge has had an impact on its relief programmes to the world's most vulnerable populations. WFP had sought donations of 4.3 billion dollars for its 2008 budget at the start of the year - before the food price crisis - but had been able to raise only 1 billion dollars as of April.