White House releases 200 million in food crisis aid
14/04/2008 21h37

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House on Monday authorized the release of 200 million dollars in emergency food aid to help alleviate a growing global food crisis, a spokeswoman said.

"With this action, an estimated 200 million in emergency food aid will be made available through the US Agency for International Development," press secretary Dana Perino said in a statement.

"This additional food aid will address the impact of rising commodity prices on US emergency food aid programs, and be used to meet unanticipated food aid needs in Africa and elsewhere.

The World Bank on Sunday said a doubling of food prices over the past three years could push 100 million people in developing countries further into poverty. It urged developed nations to step up and tackle the issue.

Perino said earlier that President George W. Bush was "very concerned ... (and) has raised the issue with his national security advisors, and he has asked State (Department) and USAID to look at what can be done in the near term."

The United States Agency for International Development has been providing US economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 40 years.

"The United States is the largest provider of food aid in the world," Perino said a day after the World Bank launched a "New Deal" to fight a food crisis that has sparked deadly unrest in developing countries.

Earlier, UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for emergency and long-term action to tackle the growing global food crisis, warning that it could trigger political upheavals and security risks.

"The rapidly escalating crisis of food availability around the world has reached emergency proportions," he told a joint meeting of key UN financial, economic and trade institutions at the United Nations in New York.

Food security has become a major concern in recent weeks as supplies of basic commodities have dwindled in the face of soaring demand, triggering riots and outbreaks of violence from Haiti to Indonesia.

"We need not only short-term emergency measures to meet urgent critical needs and avert starvation in many regions across the world, but also a significant increase in long-term productivity in food grain production," Ban told the meeting.

Noting that climate change also threatens long-term global economic growth and sustainable development, he said: "Developing countries need external assistance -- especially better technology and increased financing -- to rise to this challenge."

Original article: AFP
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