Political Will Seen Lacking in Fight Against Hunger

Vatican Expresses Disappointment

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ROME, MAY 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican expressed its "profound disappointment" at the international community´s failure to combat world hunger more effectively.



Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, apostolic nuncio at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told the 27th session of the Committee for Food Security this week that the Church´s disappointment stems primarily from the lack of political will shown by nations.

The five-day session at FAO headquarters here ends Friday. It is preparing for a November summit that will review FAO´s current anti-hunger program.

At a World Food Summit five years ago, FAO and delegates proposed to halve the number of hungry people by the year 2015. Today, no one dares give any figures, as the chasm between rich and poor is growing ever wider.

"There is an obvious contrast between the possibilities of intervention, on one hand, and the will to activate and specify these possible commitments, on the other," Archbishop Marchetto said at the opening of the working session of the Committee for Food Security.

He explained that "the right to adequate nourishment" is "an essential part of the right to life."

It not only entails the sacrosanct duty of every state to guarantee this right, he added, but in the "absence or deficiency of the capacity of each state, because of its own condition of underdevelopment and poverty, the other states, especially those that have possibilities, and intergovernmental institutions, are called to supply this lack."

The Vatican requests that the food summit in November address the factors that contribute to the creation of "food insecurity," the nuncio said.

The archbishop underlined the factors that cause food insecurity:

--First, "the perpetuation of those internal and international situations of conflict, which cause extreme uneasiness in the populations involved, causing phenomena of forced movements and the abandonment of cultivable lands."

--Second, "the question of food security is inscribed in the widest objectives of environmental protection and, therefore, of the different ecosystems. This means that the guarantee to be able to count on food provisions should not depend solely on the use of lands or their availability, but also on a policy against environmental degradation and lack of respect for the environment."

--Third, food security requires "access to markets. ... [W]orld trade should be open to the consideration of solidarity."

Archbishop Marchetto promised that, during the summit, the Vatican will speak on "globalization of fraternity. ... This means, effectively, to remove customs barriers, keeping in mind the position of obvious disadvantage of countries with low income and food deficits."

He warned that food security should not be linked to other issues in such a way that it loses the attention it deserves.