Friday, March 7, 2008

High food and oil prices swelling ranks of hungry: WFP

March 6, 2008

BRUSSELS — High prices of food and oil have been swelling the ranks of the hungry since last summer, and the crisis may not end for several years, the head of the world's largest humanitarian agency said Thursday.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the Rome-based World Food Program, said a 40 per cent rise in the cost of fuel and commodities such as grain since mid-2007 have raised the cost of food and transport, causing a $500 million shortfall in her U.N. agency's 2008 budget.

Ms. Sheeran said the budget had been put at $2.9 billion last year, but due to skyrocketing food and fuel costs the agency needs an extra $375 million for food and $125 million to transport it.

After briefing the European Parliament on her agency's financial situation, Mr. Sheeran told a news conference she saw no quick fix to high fuel and food costs. “The assessment is that we are facing high food prices at least for the next couple of years,” she said. More>>>