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Faced With The Food Crisis, UN Sounds The Alarm

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The bodies of the UN and the World Bank will establish a team of experts to address the unprecedented rise in food prices, the UN announced.

"We believe that the dramatic increase in food prices in the world has become an unprecedented challenge of global proportions, which represents a crisis for the most vulnerable, including the urban poor," said the UN after a meeting between responsible for 27 programs, agencies and international funds in Berne, Switzerland.

"This challenge has several types of effects, but the most serious took the form of a crisis for the most vulnerable," added the UN in a statement issued after the closed meeting, which ended Tuesday noon.

According to experts, this global crisis has been caused by a combination of factors: drought in Australia, soaring oil prices, increasing use of land for growing bio-fuels and speculation in the market for raw materials.

The index calculated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which takes into account changes in prices in various markets - grain, dairy products, meat, sugar and oil - has increased by 57 % Compared to its level of March 2007.

Rising prices for wheat, rice and other agricultural products has increased in recent months pressure on those responsible for the World Food Program (Pam), the UN agency expected to feed nearly 73 million people around the world this year.

In this regard, the director of Pam, Josette Sheeran said Tuesday at a press conference that because of rising food prices, the program could provide today only 60% of the assistance it provided last year.

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At his side, the general secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-moon , urged the international community to quickly unblock aid to support the emergency fund of Pam, where 755 million are missing, according to its leaders.

"Without the funding for these emergency funds, we may still be threatened by the specter of famine, malnutrition and riots on a global scale and in unprecedented proportions," he warned.

The President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, announced meanwhile in a statement that his organization would release emergency aid to the most vulnerable countries and accelerate the establishment of financial aid for others, more rapid and flexible.

The bank announced a doubling of its agricultural loans to Africa for next year, reaching a level of 800 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Zoellick invited producing countries not to ban the export of food, which, according to him, aggravate the rise in food prices.

"We urge countries not to resort to export bans. These controls encourage the establishment of stocks, cause prices to rise and affect the poorest people in the world, who are struggling to feed themselves", he said, adding that his view was shared by the general secretary of the UN.

For Zoellick, the answers to this short-term food crisis must be accompanied by the long-term solutions to strengthen global trade.

The statements by the boss of the World Bank are supported by the General Director of World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, who called Tuesday at the conclusion of the Doha round of negotiations initiated in 2001, one of the objectives is to liberalize international trade, particularly in the agricultural sector.




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