Monday, May 26, 2008

Saudis donate $500M for food crisis

Printed in the Chicago Trib. I do not know how much the US contributed in the response to the UN emergency appeal.
Saudis donate $500M for food crisis
Associated Press Writer
4:59 PM CDT, May 23, 2008

Saudi Arabia made an unprecedented contribution of $500 million to the U.N. World Food Program to respond to rising prices, meaning the agency won't have to cut rations to the world's needy, the United Nations announced Friday.

The contribution the world's biggest oil producing nation was by far the largest response to the U.N. food agency's emergency appeal for $755 million to cover increased costs that threatened critical aid to millions of needy people.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon "warmly welcomes the offer of the landmark contribution," U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

"The secretary-general notes that this contribution of an unprecedented size and generosity comes not a moment too soon, given the needs of millions of people dependent on food rations," she said.

The Saudi contribution means the agency, which operates the world's largest humanitarian program, will now have the money it needs to carry on its activities without cutting the amount of food given to the needy, Okabe said.

Josette Sheeran, the agency's executive director, said donations actually topped the appeal target -- reaching $960 million from 32 countries -- which means WFP will have $205 million to use for other urgent needs.

"We turned to the world to help the hungry and the world has been generous," Sheeran said in a statement issued at the agency's Rome headquarters.

According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia produces about 9 million barrels of oil a day. Oil prices have now topped $130 a barrel.

The WFP describes higher food prices as its biggest challenge ever and estimates the rising prices are pushing 130 million people into hunger.

Ban warned last month that the rapidly escalating global food crisis has reached emergency proportions and threatens to wipe out seven years of progress in the fight against global poverty. Ban has established a top-level task force to tackle the world food crisis.

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