Japan earmarks $54 million in food grants
Fri May 23, 4:19 AM ET
TOKYO – Japan allocated $54 million in emergency grants on Friday to the United Nations to help Afghanistan, Africa and Palestinian refugees cope with the ongoing food crisis.
The money will be given to the U.N.’s World Food Program and Relief and Works Agency to buy and distribute food in the impoverished areas, the Foreign Ministry said.
Sudan, Kenya and eight other countries in Africa are included, it said.
“Chronic food shortages are spreading in these countries and regions due to poverty, natural disasters, bad weather, as well as conflicts,” the ministry said in a statement. “The recent rises in global food prices has made the food shortage all the more serious.”
The funds represent the first allocation of Japan’s $100 million pledge of emergency food aid over three months, the Foreign Ministry said. With the announcement, Japan’s global food aid this year totals $140 million.
High oil prices, growing demand, panic buying and speculation have sent food prices soaring worldwide, triggering protests from Africa to Asia and raising fears that millions more would suffer malnutrition.
Internationally, rice prices skyrocketed by about 76 percent from December to April while overall food prices have risen 83 percent in three years, according to the World Bank.
The Japanese government announced Thursday it would release some of its huge stockpile of rice to help ease the crisis, sending some 20,000 tons to five African nations in coming weeks.