UN’s WFP launches ’emergency appeal’ as food prices rise

March 24, 2008 (AFP) – The UN agency charged with relieving world hunger has launched an “extraordinary emergency appeal” for at least 500 million dollars (325 million euros), the Financial Times reported on Monday. According to the business daily, which cited a letter sent to donor countries over the weekend that it obtained, the money was required by the end of April, otherwise the World Food Programme (WFP) would have to reduce food rations because of rapidly increasing commodity prices.

“We urge your government to be as generous as possible in helping us to close this gap — which stood at 500 million dollars on February 25 and has been growing daily,” WFP executive director Josette Sheeran wrote in the letter.

She added that if sufficient money was not received by May 1, the WFP may have to cut “the rations for those who rely on the world to stand by them during times of abject need.”

The letter also quoted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said: “This is the new face of hunger, increasingly affecting communities that had previously been protected.”

Food prices have been spiralling higher globally because of rising population, strong demand from developing countries, the use of certain fo