Pope tells FAO that hunger is a tragedy and a disgrace

On the 75th anniversary of the UN body, Pope Francis addresses world leaders noting that the number of people starving is growing due to the pandemic. He calls for facts beyond ideologies. He proposes to redirect military spending to set up a “Global Fund" to overcome hunger and underdevelopment.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis yesterday sent a video message (in Spanish) to Qu Donguy, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on World Food Day, which also marks the 75th anniversary of the UN agency.

In his address the pontiff said that “For humanity, hunger is not only a tragedy but a disgrace. It is caused in the main by inequality in the distribution of the fruits of the earth, to which is added the lack of investments in the agricultural sector, the consequences of climate change, and the increase of conflicts in different areas of the planet. Moreover, tonnes of food are thrown away. In face of this reality, we cannot remain insensitive or paralyzed. We are all responsible.

The ceremony marking the anniversary took place at a distance due to pandemic-related restrictions. COVID-19 is currently one of the factors increasing the number of hungry people on earth.

According to a study by Oxfam, by the end of the year up to 12,000 people could die every day from hunger linked, directly or indirectly, to the effects of the new coronavirus.

The pope expressed his appreciation for FAO initiatives, like the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which are designed to promote a “diversified agriculture" and rural development in the poorest countries.

At the same time, he also calls for urgent actions based on facts not words, urging stakeholders not to stop at "dialectical or ideological discussions”, which allow “our brothers and sisters to continue to die from lack of food.”

Instead, he reaffirms a proposal he made in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, which is to “establish a ‘Global Fund’ with the money that is used for arms and other military expenses so as to be able to definitively defeat hunger and help the development of the poorest countries.”

In doing, “we could avoid many wars and the emigration of so many of our brothers and their families, who are forced to abandon their homes and countries in search of a more dignified life.”