Food for thought this Christmas

The number of starving in the world has increased by nearly 20 million since the mid 1990s

While hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on weapons, war, killing and destruction and countless more billions are spent on Christmas, the number of people starving in the world is increasing, instead of decreasing.

However boring those people are who spread gloom and doom stories at Christmas time trying to make the rest of us feel guilty as we tuck into our stuffed turkeys and push yet another glass of wine into our already bloated bellies, the latest report from the FAO deserves mention this Christmas.

“The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2004” is the name of the report released yesterday, December 8th, by the UNO's Food and Agriculture Organization. To ignore this report is a sin.

While certain nations spend billions, not tens of billions but hundreds of billions of dollars on the destruction of the State of Iraq (and tens of thousands of its citizens, including innocent women and children), the number of starving in the world has increased by nearly 20 million since the mid 1990s, according to the report.

Furthermore, between 2000 and 2002, the number of starving rose to 852 million people, nearly one billion. At the beginning of the third millennium, what are we doing?

At this rate, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which intended to halve the number of starving by 2015, will never be reached and what a pitiful comment on humankind that some of us spend so much on illegal wars, slaughtering children with cluster bombs in a quixotic quest for Weapons of Mass Destruction which continue to go AWOL, while at the same time more and more people find themselves without enough money to put a meal on the table.

This shameful comment on the development of humankind is compounded by the statement from the General Director of the FAO, Hartwig de Haen, who declared that “Enough is known about how to end hunger and now is the time to capture the momentum towards that goal,” adding that it is a question of “political will and prioritization.”

So, we see very clearly the political will and the list of priorities drawn up by the clique of sycophants who backed George Bush's act of butchery in Iraq. First, crawl around the legs of the elitist regime in Washington, hoping for contracts to be doled out, second try to stimulate the arms industry, selling more and more equipment to slaughter fellow human beings and to hell with the rest of humankind.

History always judges in hindsight and en masse and it will be interesting to see how the history book will describe mankind at the beginning of the Third Millennium, when we will be seen as collectively spending more on killing each other and destroying our cities than defending and saving members of our own species in need.

In the forefront of the fight to set things right is Brazil's President Lula da Silva, who together with the UNO, Chile, France and Spain has formed the Quintet against Hunger, a movement which stimulates partnerships such as self-financing farming schools, which teach farmers how to make the most of their local conditions.

The United Kingdom has also launched an idea to provide an international fund, based on the sale of government bonds, to provide 50 billion USD per year to address the problems of the world's poorest nations by 2015. Yes, we should feel guilty this year as we carve our stuffed turkeys and stuff them down our gullets because at the beginning of the Third Millennium, mankind was supposed to have risen to a higher and nobler state of development.

We all know who we have to blame for this but the history book will blame all of us, not only Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell, Rice et alia. It is time mankind said a collective NO! to war and destruction of families and homes and YES! to developing the countries which have been held down for so long, by using subsidies and tariffs, while at the same time the “developed” world claims that it practises a policy of free trade.

The fact that hunger and famine is rising, reaching almost a billion, at the beginning of the century, is a telling comment on the deplorable political leadership demonstrated by those who deride the UNO as a League of Nations and then proceed with a shocking act of mass murder, spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the process.

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Author`s name Olga Savka