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2/9/03 - U.S. FIGHTS HUNGER - 2003-02-10

In Africa, thirty million people are at risk of starvation or are facing severe food shortages.

The crisis in Zimbabwe is of particular concern. Seven-point-two million Zimbabweans, over half the population, face serious food shortages and the risk of starvation. Although worsened by poor rainfall, Zimbabwe's crisis arises from the policies and actions of the government of Zimbabwe. Political oppression and economic mismanagement have decimated agricultural production and ruined Zimbabwe's economy. In the face of great human suffering, Zimbabwean officials often manipulate the availability of scarce government food stocks for political gains and personal ends. Other African nations facing serious food shortages include Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Ethiopia has over fourteen-million people at risk. And longtime hunger fueled by war continue in Angola and Sudan.

The United States is the world's largest donor of food relief, making over sixty percent of the contributions to the United Nations World Food Program's emergency operations. The U.S. made over forty percent of the contributions to the program's emergency appeals for Africa in 2002.

President George W. Bush has proposed spending more than one billion dollars in the next year to meet emergency food needs worldwide. Mr. Bush has also proposed a two-hundred-million-dollar famine fund to bring immediate assistance to regions facing starvation. Money from the fund would be available to purchase food supplies, or to support food production. In the words of President Bush, "We will encourage friends around the world to set up similar funds and leverage our combined resources to provide the most help to famine-stricken lands."

Thanks to the United States and other nations, a severe hunger crisis in Africa was recently averted. Thousands of tons of food aid will continue to flow though March. But Africa's urgent need for food assistance will continue. As President Bush said, "Through all our efforts to fight disease and hunger, we can spare people in many nations from untold suffering. Millions are facing great affliction, but with our help, they will not face it alone."