2014-10-16 15:54:00

World Food Day: JRS calls for globalization of compassion

(Vatican Radio) On October 16 we mark World Food Day, an occurrence set aside by the United Nations to highlight the problems of food security which still affect millions of people across the world and of our commitment to rid the world of hunger. 

According to recent statistics there are 842 million hungry people in the world today, 98% of them live in developing nations.

Although refugees and forcibly displaced people make up a tiny portion of those suffering from chronic hunger and malnutrition, World Food Day offers an occasion to shine the light on the fact that too many of them are denied the basic right to food.

Jesuit Refugee Service International Communications Head, James Stapleton, told Linda Bordoni that World Food Day also offers us the chance to recognize the rights and the dignity of refugees and forced migrants

Listen to the interview:

Stapleton says the on-going conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the protracted refugee crisis in Chad resulting in millions of displaced persons, are challenging the capacity of the international community to meet the basic food needs of those fleeing conflict.

"Food saves lives. It helps us be productive citizens, and is essential to the development of our children: we need to ensure that people get food otherwise nothing else really matters" he said.

Stapleton points out that  local NGOs and communities are often better placed to deliver aid to difficult-to-reach populations.

He says that community based initiatives and humanitarian efforts have so far proven effective in preventing areas of some conflict-torn countries from experiencing famine, but the prospects for the future are bad unless desperately needed funds are provided immediately and coordination mechanisms between aid agencies are dramatically improved.

Stapleton also points out that humanitarian agencies should progress food aid by coordinating actors in the supply chain, particularly for food and seeds, and consulting communities about what would best serve their needs.

In the lines of what Pope Francis says – Stapleton points to “the globalisation of compassion in which people must be involved and realize that this is important”.

World Food Day is an occasion to highlight the fact that refugees and displaced people have a right to dignity and must not remain invisible.

Stapleton says “we must make sure that everybody has access to food. As we know it is the people in the most marginalised and vulnerable situations that don’t have access to food, and unfortunately refugees continue to be in that group. We want to say that sometime there are different solutions needed for refugees for them not to be forgotten, not to be invisible”. 

For more information about JRS International go to the website here

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