February 5, 2003: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: COS - Thailand: Diplomacy: Hunger: US Embassy in Italy: U.S. ambassador and RPCV Tony Hall addresses World Food Programme

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ethiopia: Peace Corps Ethiopia : The Peace Corps in Ethiopia: February 5, 2003: Headlines: COS - Ethiopia: COS - Thailand: Diplomacy: Hunger: US Embassy in Italy: U.S. ambassador and RPCV Tony Hall addresses World Food Programme

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U.S. ambassador and RPCV Tony Hall addresses World Food Programme

U.S. ambassador and RPCV Tony Hall addresses World Food Programme

U.S. ambassador and RPCV Tony Hall addresses World Food Programme



February 5, 2003

I want to congratulate Executive Director Jim Morris for his untiring efforts on behalf of the world’s hungry poor, as highlighted by his extensive trip last month to the Horn, southern Africa and Angola. I think that it is important to see these situations first-hand in order to truly understand the depth of the problems. In that vein, I will visit Ethiopia later this month.

Regarding the Horn of Africa, I am proud to say that the United States has committed more than 500,000 metric tons of food to feed famine victims in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Almost half of that food has already been delivered and more food pledges are pending.

I was in Ethiopia in 1984, during their Great Famine. I hope the world responds with an outpouring of support like we did almost twenty years ago. Given that history repeats itself, it is clear that the government of Ethiopia, WFP and its UN sister agencies, and donors need to take into account Ethiopia's structural food deficit of approximately 700,000 tons per year.

We need to focus on improving the national capacity to import food on time to where it is needed, and directly address this deficit in all of our development strategies. We all need to work together to encourage the Government to develop a transitional framework to protect and build assets for its four million people who are predictably food-insecure. In Eritrea, WFP and the donors need to continue the dialogue related to food-for-work as an excellent way of engaging able-bodied beneficiary populations in productive activities.

Earlier this week, U.S. President George W. Bush announced his budget, which calls for almost $1.2 billion dollars for international food aid to meet emergency food needs worldwide. Additionally, this budget includes a new $200 million Famine Fund, with flexible authority to provide emergency food, including purchasing regional supplies, grants and support to meet dire needs on a case-by-case basis. I hope that other donor countries accept the President’s invitation to set up similar funds. This commitment reflects more than a 15-percent increase in U.S. food assistance over last year. I am pleased to say that the U.S. is responding to the increase in needs with an increase in resources.

The Executive Director has justly flagged an overwhelming number of humanitarian crises around the world. I note in this regard that there is an OECD-constituted Humanitarian Liaison Working Group in both Geneva and New York. They meet to discuss matters of common concern amongst themselves and occasionally with representatives of relevant parts of the various UN Secretariats.

In July 2000, our able colleague, then-Netherlands Ambassador Berteling, proposed the establishment here in Rome of a Humanitarian Working Group to have an opportunity to discuss among the main donors in a frank, open and constructive atmosphere about humanitarian and other crosscutting issues with potential implications on humanitarian affairs. It would allow members to consult each other on humanitarian policies and co-ordinate respective action. I believe that the time has indeed come to bring to fruition Ambassador Berteling’s idea.

Finally, a word on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As you probably know, President Bush in his State of the Union Address on January 28 committed $15 billion dollars over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion dollars in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean. Let me quote a statement of Dr. Peter Piot of UNAIDS who will be with us at this Board session: “AIDS is rapidly wiping out decades of development and contributing to regional instability. The case for increasing action against this epidemic has never been stronger or more urgent.” I saw this during my trip to Zimbabwe and Malawi and sadly expect to see it in Ethiopia as well.

I applaud the Executive Director’s tour of southern Africa with HIV/AIDS Ambassador Stephen Lewis which confirmed the growing negative synergy between AIDS and famine. We see this as fewer and fewer farmers are available to work the fields. U.S Secretary of State Powell emphasized this connection in a recent statement: “When you marry HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, like tuberculosis and malaria, with malnutrition and hunger and the lack of food in so many parts of the world, they reinforce one another and make it an even greater catastrophe.”

It is clear that every UN organization, including those which we work with here in Rome, and all of us, need to commit ourselves to combating this terrible pandemic. I look forward to hearing more about WFP’s strategy tomorrow.
Let me conclude by thanking the staff of the World Food Program for all of the hard work they do to feed the hungry. I am grateful as well to my colleagues around this table. I hope that our mission of helping those most in need remains our most important purpose.

When this story was prepared, this was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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Story Source: US Embassy in Italy

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ethiopia; COS - Thailand; Diplomacy; Hunger



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