Did you know there were deadly food riots in Haiti last week? And in several other countries around the world. The U.S. closed the embassy in Haiti, banned official travel, is discouraging civilian travel and encouraging U.S. citizens already in Haiti to get out. The soaring cost of food sparked the violent protests—around the world food prices have risen 45% in the past nine months and have doubled in the last three years. The Chairman of the World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick, said three dozen countries face potential social unrest because of rising food and fuel prices.
I didn’t hear about it until Sunday morning when our rector announced that our upcoming missions trip to Haiti (we have a nearly 20-year partnership with a congregation in Haiti) was up in the air. Apparently I’ve been reading the wrong news outlets (curse you CNN!). The U.S. has pledged $200 million for emergency food aid, so I guess it’s good that at least something is being done. Update: Though experts say this isn’t a short term problem.
“While many are worrying about filling their gas tanks, many others around the world are struggling to fill their stomachs, and it is getting more and more difficult every day,” said Zoellick (Washington Times).
“We estimate that the effect of this food crisis on poverty reduction worldwide is on the order of seven lost years. We can’t be satisfied with studies and paper and talk. This is about recognizing a growing emergency, acting. … The world can do this. We can do this,” said Zoellick (Washington Times)
“A world food crisis is emerging, less visible than the oil crisis, but with the potential effect of real economic and humanitarian tsunami in Africa,” said European Union Development Commissioner Louis Michel (Washington Times).
It’s unnerving to read about this kind of brutal poverty and hunger while I dump leftover food in the trash.