A U.N. report says hunger is on the rise globally and blames higher food prices.
Populations within conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of Congo are particularly vulnerable.
The Food and Agriculture Organization has issued preliminary estimates classifying 963 million people as undernourished — an increase of 40 million people over the past year.
“One out of seven people — about 15 percent — suffer chronically of not having enough to eat,” said Mark Smulders, an FAO economist.
The hunger report — titled “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008” — said the world’s financial and economic problems could throw more people into poverty.
The number of hungry had been increasing over the years before the rise in food prices, with warfare and political instability continuing to be among the factors causing poverty.
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The goal of halving the number of hungry people in the world by 2015 is becoming ever more elusive, with 40 million more people plunged into chronic hunger this year, the UN food agency’s chief said on Tuesday.
“For many countries, the world goal of reducing hunger by half is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve,” Food and Agriculture Organisation Director-General Jacques Diouf told a news conference, referring to one of the set in 2000.
“This sad reality should not be acceptable at the dawn of the 21st century,” the FAO chief said, adding: “Even the objective of cutting by half the number of hungry by 2015 is morally unacceptable.”
Thehas added 40 million more people to the ranks of the hungry this year, taking the estimated number to 963 million, he said, unveiling the Rome-based agency’s annual report on world food insecurity.
The crisis affects mainly the poorest, the landless and female-headed households, says the report, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008.”