U.N. of­fi­cial: Stop con­flicts, and use funds to feed hun­gry

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - WORLD - By Edith M. Led­erer

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.”

David Beasley

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