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EDITORIAL: It’s a shame that funding cuts to the World Food Programme (WFP) risks pushing approximately 24 million people worldwide to the brink of starvation.

While sounding the alarm the UN (United Nations) agency mentioned that it faced a “crippling funding crisis”, without elaborating on it except that it’s slashed its budget by 60 percent already this year, the highest in its history.

This is very serious, especially considering that, according to the UN’s own estimates, a one percent cut in funding can make more than 400,000 fall into “emergency levels of hunger”.

That’s why WFP chief Cindy McCain minced few words as she pointed out that “the world will undoubtedly see more conflict, more unrest, and more hunger” if her agency does not get the money it needs.

“Either we fan the flames of global instability, or we work quickly to put out the fire,” she rightly added. The worst effects will be felt in place already torn by war and conflict, like Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, putting untenable pressure on an already torn social fabric.

It beggars belief that this deep in the 21st century, when numerous revolutions in the world of finance have multiplied global money circulation many times over, outfits like WFP that do extremely important work are still begging for scraps.

The world owes it to the UN to protect institutions like the food programme. For all its faults – like failure to prevent unfair wars or succumbing to the whims of global heavyweights — the UN is the only institution with the outreach and experience to reach the farthest corners of the world and save refugees, victims of war crimes, the starving and the sick.

There’s no question of it being able to do any of that without proper funding, needless to say, which makes the international community’s silence on this matter that much more sinister. When countries can divert billions, sometimes even trillions of taxpayer dollars to bailout giant financial institutions without batting an eyelid, and conveniently look the other way while institutions like WFP break down because of a “crippling funding crisis”, there is something seriously wrong with the priority list of nations that lead the world.

Rich countries don’t feel the pinch because they are far removed from the main theatres of suffering and starvation. Yet by ignoring this glaring threat they are making a blunder that will come back to haunt them as well.

For, when there is more conflict and chaos in the world – which is precisely what you get when more and more people are suddenly driven to starvation – the entire international system, that runs on social and commercial linkages, is affected. And the last thing that the rich and powerful global north needs right now, while it faces economic headwinds of its own, is more needless disruptions in that system.

That is why sorting out WFP’s financial problems is not just the right, but also the most sensible, thing to do.

It’s bad enough that there is still so much suffering in the world and so many countries can do so little about such troubles inside their borders. But it’s much worse to deprive the one institution that does better work of solving such problems than any other of the money it desperately needs to keep working.

If WFP’s ominous warning falls on deaf ears, then the whole world, not just the destitute and starving, will ultimately pay for it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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KU Sep 15, 2023 11:29am
If the UN were to develop a matrix on the history of interference and induced revolution, a lot of chaos resulting in death and food shortage would point toward the developed world. The colonial mindset and raw material control in international trade and its first usage or right is the bane of all and mighty. But like our own dilemma on the rule of law and justice, the responsibility for the chaos in the world will never be called out.
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