UAE minister urges action on global hunger

A UAE minister has called on world and business leaders to do more to tackle the causes of hunger in the world’s poorest countries.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, said a concerted effort was needed to eliminate hunger and to help poor nations to feed themselves.

“Hunger is one of the worst things we face,” he told Philanthropy Age on the sidelines of a World Food Programme (WFP) fundraising event in Dubai. “We need a collective response; no one can say; ‘This is not my problem.’ We all have a responsibility towards our children and to future generations.”

The minister was a keynote speaker at the gala dinner and auction event, which raised more than AED1m to support food aid operations carried out by the WFP in Syria, Yemen and India.

Items that went under the hammer included a three-day stay at Six Six Senses Resort, Zighy Bay, Oman, first-class tickets donated by Emirates Airline and artwork from the Barjeel Art Foundation and artist Faiza Shaikh.

“An army marches on its stomach, and so do we all,” Sheikh Nahyan told the fundraiser. “Hunger simply holds us in place. Hunger takes the fight out of us. It defeats us.”

The campaign against hunger “will not come to an end in our lifetime, but it must be waged in our lifetime,” he said.

Each year, the WFP feeds an average of 90 million people in 70 countries. The UN agency has battled to get food to Syrians caught in their country’s escalating civil war, a conflict that has left more than 70,000 people dead.

The WFP is seeking to reach 2.5 million people inside the Arab state, and around a million outside, including many in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The agency requires $19m a week to maintain its food aid operations in Syria.

In April, Kuwait donated $40m to the WFP, covering half of the agency’s resourcing needs for Syria until the end of June.