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U.N. to extend Haiti school feeding through summer

Posted onJune 3rd, 2008 - 10:13 PM
Left - A woman receives food from a U.N. Brazilian peacekeeper in Cite-Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The World Food Programme will extend its school feeding programmes in Haiti through the summer months because of the country's huge needs related to a global food crisis, its executive director said on Tuesday.

Josette Sheeran said the commodity price shock that has made staple foods increasingly unaffordable in poor countries meant the United Nations agency's budget, already increased, would have to rise further this year.

"In Haiti, the needs have grown so dramatically that we are tripling the number of people we will reach, including keeping our school feeding programmes going in the summer," she told Reuters in an interview. "In very vulnerable countries, the kids can't be cut off in the summer months in this time of need."

Sheeran said the presence of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should not distract from the focus on food security at a U.N. meeting in Rome, where heads of state and international aid officials are holding three days of talks on the food crisis.

"Our focus is really on being able to raise the attention and awareness and continue the funding stream," she said.

While not referring to Mugabe by name, she said it was important that his country overcome the political and economic turbulence that has occurred under his controversial rule.

"Zimbabwe was a few years ago the bread basket of southern Africa and now it is one of our biggest programmes and the needs there have grown very dramatically. It is really our hope that the situation in Zimbabwe can improve on food security, as we need it to do around the world," she said.

"The solution (to hunger) is stabilising situations so that the hungry can grow their food and meet their food needs."

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis)

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