World's hungry top one billion
Rome, June 20, 2009
The number of hungry in the world has reached a "historic high" of more than one billion people, the UN food agency said, blaming the global financial crisis for the surge.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday "one sixth of humanity", or 1.02 billion people, do not get enough to eat. It predicted an 11 per cent increase for all of 2009.
An estimated 642 million of the total are in the Asia-Pacific region, the agency said. Some 265 million are in sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean and 52 million in the Middle East and north Africa.
But the FAO said there are some 15 million hungry in developed countries.
A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty, FAO chief Jacques Diouf said.
He called for a "new world food order" enshrining the "right to food and thus the right to exist", urging stepped-up investment in agriculture.
The FAO had initially revised downward its estimate of hungry people from 963 million to 915 million because of a "better-than-expected global food supply".