Underscoring the need for an urgent global action to tackle the "silent tsunami" of rising food prices, a top UN official has warned that it could push more than 100 million people into hunger across the world.
"This is the new face of hunger the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are," said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
She said like the 2004 tsunami, which hit the Indian Ocean leaving quarter of a million dead and about 10 million more destitute, the food price crisis the biggest challenge WFP has faced in its 45-year history requires a global response.
"The response calls for large-scale, high-level action by the global community, focused on emergency and longer-term solutions," she added.
Recalling the record USD 12 billion aid provided by the donor community for the tsunami recovery effort, Sheeran said "we need that same kind of action and generosity."
She said WFP has been working with donor governments, other UN agencies, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and other humanitarian actors, including NGOs to ensure a coordinated response.
The impact of the crisis is already being felt in different parts of the world. Unless new funding can be found on time, WFP will have to suspend school feeding to 450,000 children beginning in May in Cambodia.
Addressing a gathering of trade and development officials in Ghana over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged for immediate steps to guarantee the world's food security, starting with ensuring that WFP has the additional USD 755 million it needs to cover the rising costs of its existing emergency operations.