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Observing a sobering day

Oct 16,2017 - Last updated at Oct 16,2017

The world observed World Food Day on October 16; the occasion honours the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation 72 years ago.

This year, the theme was “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development”.

It should be more than a day nations tick off on the calendar. The occasion should prompt humanity to spare a thought — and beyond that take action to address the problem — to the 805 million undernourished people.

It should bring vividly to mind images of distended stomachs of hungry children, of whom, in 2010 alone, about 7.6 million died — more than 20,000 a day — due to poor nutrition.

It should remind us of the wasted food thrown in the garbage with not a thought for the hungry around.

UN figures indicate that over 244 million people in the world migrated across international borders in 2015; displaced people reached the staggering figure of 760 million. Forced immigrants counted 65.6 million all over the world in 2016.

Of these, most can barely find scraps to eat. Many do not make it.

Nearly 98 per cent of the world hunger exists in underdeveloped countries; almost one in every 15 children in developing countries dies before the age of 5, most of them from hunger-related causes.

The figures, provided by the UN, may jolt humanity’s conscience for a day, but they will be forgotten the next.

How could they not?

Many of us have difficulty trying to think of a person in our circle that goes to bed hungry. Many have difficulty imagining what hunger is.

True, there are timid attempts at raising awareness, at feeding the poor with dignity, at economising for the sake of not depleting the planet, but they are rare and with limited effect.

As long as humanity at large, maybe spurred by FAO, does not take concrete steps, hunger will be a permanent fixture.

Jordan joined the rest of the international community in commemorating the day.

HRH Princess Basma, the president of the National Alliance against Hunger and Malnutrition, who presided over the celebration, called for greater awareness of the impact of migration or natural disasters on the availability of food and nutrition on the affected peoples.

Countries such as Jordan, which hosts one-and-a-half million Syrian refugees, have undertaken an awesome responsibility on behalf of the world to make food available to its people and to the refugees.

This year’s celebration should raise global awareness about hunger and food security, towards fulfilling the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that aim, inter alia, to make the world hunger free.


That one goal must be reached.

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