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World 'still has 870 million undernourished people'

The Global Hunger Index has been presented for the eighth time. It shows that despite some advances in endangered regions, one in eight people in the world still doesn't have enough to eat.

Presenting the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in Berlin on Monday, the president of German aid organization Welthungerhilfe said the number of people suffering from a lack of food was still a "scandal," despite a global reduction of 34 per cent in the hunger situation since 1990.

Bärbel Dieckmann blamed food shortages mainly on environmental catastrophes, conflicts and rising food prices, adding that climate change was increasing the frequency of drought in developing countries.

Dieckmann cited Syria as an example for the dramatic consequences armed conflict can have on the food supply in a country, saying four million refugees from the country were now reliant on outside help. She added that there were now first reports of Syrian children dying of malnourishment.

The GHI portrayed the food situation as particularly bad on the Comoros, in Eritrea and in Burundi. Most of the badly afflicted countries are in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.

Some progress

In contrast, the situation in Latin America was encouraging, Dieckmann said, with only Bolivia and Paraguay still needing food aid.

The GHI also recorded great advances in East Asia, particularly China, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, Dieckmann criticized the fact that food is unequally distributed, comparing the tons of food wasted in industrial nations with the food shortages in needy countries.

"It is a scandal, because there is enough food worldwide. All the people could be fed. But we don't succeed in distributing the food well enough," she said.

Action week

This week is the so-called "Welthungerhilfe Week," which was opened on Sunday by German President Joachim Gauck. In a speech, Gauck warned the world not to slacken in its efforts to combat world hunger, particularly in view of the number of children affected.

"Even today, a child under five years of age dies every ten seconds because of a lack of food," Gauck said.

Welthungerhilfe's action week on global hunger was launched 42 years ago. It takes place every year around the time of World Food Day on 16 October.

tj/msh (epd, KNA)