A 214 million dollar (144 million euro) programme aimed at 16 "hunger hotspots" around the world in the face of soaring food prices has been initiated by the UN food relief agency.
"With hunger on the rise, we are doing our best to stream incoming contributions to the people most in need in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean," said the World Food Programme's executive director, Josette Sheeran.
Advertisement"It is essential to launch a bold new set of responses to stem a full-blown hunger and nutritional crisis" amid spiralling food and fuel prices, she said in a statement.
The programme includes food rations for highly vulnerable groups, feeding children even during school holidays, giving extra food to needy pregnant women and young children, expanding food assistance to urban areas hardest hit by high food prices, and supporting small farmers and markets, the WFP said.
Half the aid, 104 million dollars, is directed at more than 11 million people in 14 countries particularly hard-hit by high food prices, including help to urban areas where "food is unaffordable and there is risk of discontent," the statement said.
Some is in the form of vouchers and direct cash transfers.
Another 110 million dollars has been released for the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa, where the WFP has added funds from emergency reserves to meet urgent food needs.
In Somalia, "the suffering and destitution of millions is a result of insecurity, drought, a succession of poor or failed harvests, a weak Somali shilling and rising food and fuel prices," the statement said, warning: "Parts of the country risk a disaster similar to the famine years of 1992-1993."
In neighbouring Ethiopia, more than 10 million people are affected by drought, it said.
The other populations targetted are in Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, the occupied Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Senegal, Tajikistan, Uganda and Yemen.
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