U.N. official: Stop conflicts, and use funds to feed hungry
UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.N. food agency is telling world leaders that the only way to end global hunger is to end conflicts, which would also free up billions of dollars to build roads and infrastructure and promote economic growth in all developing countries.
David Beasley said in an interview with The Associated Press this week that 19 countries are now in “protracted conflict” — which is “more conflict than we’ve ever had” — and 80 percent of the World Food Program’s funds are now going into conflict regions.
For many years, he said, the number of people facing extreme hunger fell despite the increase in global population, but in the last few years the number of people facing extreme hunger has increased from 777 million to 815 million in 2016 — “all because of man-made conflict.”
In 2015, world leaders adopted new U.N. goals, first and foremost to eradicate extreme poverty — people living on less than $1.25 a day — in all countries by 2030.
“Zero hunger by 2030? It’s a joke without ending the conflicts,” Beasley said. “If we end the conflicts, with the expertise and the food sector of the world, we can end world hunger.”
Beasley said he has recently visited many countries in conflict — Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia.
“It’s a disgrace on humanity, the number of innocent victims of conflict, children, that are starving to death because of nothing but manmade conflict,” he said.
When he met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whom he called “the grandpapa” of the east African region, Beasley said Museveni asked how much money the World Food Program was spending in South Sudan.
“I said, ‘it’s around a billion dollars.’ I said, ‘How’d you like to have a billion dollars for roads and infrastructure, for development in Uganda?’ ” Beasley said.
“It’s just being poured down the tube and nothing to show for it. We’re keeping people alive, and that’s a wonderful thing, but how long can you sustain that?” he asked.
Beasley said he thinks it was “a game-changer” for Museveni, realizing how much money was not being used for development and to promote jobs and opportunities in developing countries because of conflicts.
He urged powerful nations around the world to work with the United Nations to end conflicts.
“Why don’t we put our heads together and have a comprehensive strategy and end just one? And then we’ll go to the next one, and then within a year we’ve ended two or three wars, saved us hundreds of billions of dollars,” Beasley said. “Let’s end Yemen or Syria or South Sudan. Let’s end something.”