- Title: ITALY: AFRICAN LEADERS MEET DURING U.N. FOOD SUMMIT, LATEST
- Date: 12th June 2002
- Summary: (U5) ROME, ITALY (JUNE 11, 2002) (REUTERS) LV/GV: EXTERIOR OF FAO HEADQUARTERS, MOUNTED POLICE (3 SHOTS) LV/GV: VARIOUS PLENARY SESSION TAKING PLACE (2 SHOTS) LV/GV: JAMES MORRIS, HEAD OF U.N. AID AGENCY THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME AT NEWS CONFERENCE/MEDIA (3 SHOTS) MV: (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAMES MORRIS HEAD OF U.N. AID AGENCY THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SAYING: "The crisis is imminent. It will build the further we get away from the harvest the more people will be affected by the crisis and it will hit its peak next winter. There is an immediacy right now especially in Zimbabwe and probably in Malawi. The number of people that we have been helping in Malawi has increased dramatically over the last several weeks."
- Embargoed: 27th June 2002 13:00
- Location: ROME, ITALY, MALAWI AND ZIMBABWE
- Country: Italy
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8LJE68I14SU7XA9XHWBE163RU
- Story Text: The United Nations has told the world to stop talking about hunger and start fighting it, warning that up to 13 million people risk starvation in southern Africa unless they receive emergency food aid.
African leaders have met to finalise details for an initiative to present to world leaders in Canada later this month, which they hope will push African initiatives to fight famine and debt.
The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) had hoped their four-day food summit would encourage wealthy nations to open the purse strings and work harder to cut the number of hungry people to 400 million by 2015 from around 800 million at present.
While dozens of developing world leaders have poured into Rome, most wealthy Western countries only sent their agriculture ministers. Britain did not even do that, only dispatching a junior official to watch proceedings.
In an atmosphere of apparent unconcern by wealthy countries over the world's food problems a senior U.N.
official urged leaders to stop talking about hunger and start fighting it.
"The crisis is imminent. It will build the further we get away from the harvest the more people will be affected by the crisis and it will hit its peak next winter," said James Morris, head of U.N. aid agency the World Food Programme (WFP).
The WFP says a mix of drought, poor government and the AIDS pandemic has wrought havoc with harvests in six African countries.
"There is an immediacy right now especially in Zimbabwe and probably in Malawi. The number of people that we have been helping in Malawi has increased dramatically over the last several weeks," Morris added.
Local farmers have been suffering from drought and lack of government agricultural initiatives in Zimbabwe.
Production has worsened since president Robert Mugabe's controversial land ownership legislation.
"We have no food and we have no plan; unless, until we get donors to help or the government does something for us," said local farmer Nyakallo Makhurane.
"The issue in terms of change of land ownership in Zimbabwe is significant," Morris said in Rome, "If you looked at our assessment you would see that the crops produced commercially in Zimbabwe have decreased between 55 and 60 percent this year over earlier years. So it's a major factor,"
On the sidelines of the summit, fifteen African heads of state met to hammer-out a blueprint for reviving their blighted continent, including setting standards for better political and economic management.
The leaders met to give final form to NEPAD -- the New Partnership for African Development -- an African-authored initiative to be presented to major power leaders in Canada later this month.
Originally drawn up by four nations -- Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Algeria -- it is now being driven by a 15-member group and trying to win converts on the continent.
Significantly, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has been roundly criticised in the West for his strong-arm rule, was absent from Tuesday's gathering despite the fact that he was in Rome for the hunger summit.
"By the time we come to Canada we are meeting them on the June 27, that meeting has got to produce some practical results. That's the commitment, that's the agreement," said South African President Thabo Mbeki.
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