“Hunger is an outrage in a world of plenty,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday told the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP), highlighting the important role of food security in cementing peace.
“An empty stomach is a gaping hole in the heart of a society. A stunted child’s growth in the mind is progress for her and for everyone,” the UN chief told the governing body of the world body’s food agency, the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.
The top UN official lauded the WFP for delivering food to “the most remote locations, in the most dangerous situations, in the most challenging contexts,” with enormous commitment, generosity and competence.
“With human need all around, and at times with bullets and bombs shrieking through the air, you brought life-saving assistance to vulnerable people in a way that is an example for the whole world,” he said. “You provide hope not only by helping people to meet their immediate food and nutrition needs, but also enabling people to change their lives.”
The UN chief is building support behind his global call to silence the guns, urging combatants to unite against the coronavirus instead.
Although the WFP, like many other UN agencies, must work in politically charged settings, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the state of global food security, the UN chief noted.
“Hunger is rising again … (and) famine is again threatening several countries,” said Guterres.
On climate change, the UN chief said that food systems would be “essential in bringing us to net zero and I believe that what you can do as the World Food Programme is essential,” he noted.
Guterres spotlighted the WFP’s “huge” financing gap of around 5 billion U.S. dollars and called for the international community’s support.
“We need to make sure that you have the resources to be at the right place at the right time, supporting people,” he told the board.