Groups pressure world leaders ahead of 'Hunger Summit'



ROME - Aid groups and associations Wednesday voiced fears that a "Hunger Summit" to be hosted by the UN food agency next week will fall short of its goals, notably in the absence of key world leaders.
"It's a tragedy that the world leaders are not going to attend the summit" at the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation, Daniel Berman of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres -- MSF) told a news conference.



Groups pressure world leaders ahead of 'Hunger Summit'
The FAO, which includes 193 member states, is hosting the gathering formally titled the World Summit on Food Security from Monday through Wednesday.
The international small farmers movement Via Campesina also lamented the absence of Group of Eight leaders, saying in a statement: "This is a major concern, and we call upon the G8 governments (to) take up your responsibility, your economic and political strength gives you a major responsibility on this issue!"
A Via Campesina member who heads an Italian organic farming association, Andrea Ferrante, said the absence of G8 heads of state "would mean admitting that these countries are not really interested in an effective response to the food crisis."
More than 60 heads of state and government will attend the summit, according to an FAO statement.
Apart from Pope Benedict XVI and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the only heads of state or government who have confirmed their planned attendance are the Brazilian and Paraguayan presidents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Fernando Lugo.
The presidents Moamer Kadhafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez are also expected.
The MSF also raised the alarm about malnutrition, saying that international funding for nutrition amounts to only about three percent of a new World Bank estimate of the total need.
"We are also afraid that the leaders will focus mainly on agricultural production instead of nutrition programmes," Berman said. "That could mean death or lifelong handicaps for millions of children."
Non-governmental organisations plan a parallel forum with the slogan "People's Food Sovereignty Now!" to be attended by Diouf and Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.
More than 400 delegates from around 70 countries will attend the forum.
On Sunday evening, the international anti-poverty agency ActionAid plans a "Stop Hunger!" vigil at Rome's Colosseum, which will be lit up for the occasion, spokeswoman Sarah Gillam told AFP.
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Thursday, November 12th 2009
AFP
           


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