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UN World Food Program issues urgent appeal for aid

  • Story Highlights
  • Agency seeks $3 billion, blames economy for surge in demand, drop in donations
  • We "have over 1 billion people who are going hungry," spokeswoman says
  • Agency's food aid level at 20-year low as it seeks to feed 108 million people this year
  • At current funding, program will begin cutting its services next month
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(CNN) -- The United Nations' World Food Program appealed Wednesday for $3 billion in donations, blaming the world economic crisis for a surge in demand and a drop in donations.

"We now, for the first time in history, have over 1 billion people who are going hungry," spokeswoman Bettina Luescher said.

The program, which is voluntarily funded and receives the bulk of its donations from governments and large organizations, said its level of food aid is at a 20-year low. It said it has received just $2.7 billion of the $6.7 billion it will need to feed 108 million people around the world this year.

"The problem is that we're not receiving the money that we need this year," Luescher said.

Record high food prices have combined with the financial crisis to deliver "a devastating blow," the agency said in a news release.

"Throw in a storm, a drought and a conflict, and you have a recipe for disaster," the agency said.

It described the $3 billion shortfall as "less than 0.01 percent of what was put on the table to stabilize the world financially."

At current funding, the program will begin cutting its services next month -- by 50 percent in drought-stricken Kenya and Somalia and by 80 percent in Bangladesh, it said.

The World Food Program describes itself as the world's largest humanitarian agency. This year, its goal is to feed 108 million people in 74 countries.

All About Economic CrisisUnited Nations World Food ProgrammeHunger

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