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Senators to Visit Hunger-Ravaged Yemen and Afghanistan

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Senators Jack Reed (RI), Carl Levin (MI), and Jon Tester (MT) are traveling this week to Afghanistan, Yemen, and Iraq. A press release stated the senators will gain a “firsthand look at security and political developments in the region and their impact on America’s national security.”

The senators also need to focus on the hunger and malnutrition crisis facing these countries, and the fact that the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is facing huge funding shortages for its Yemen and Afghanistan missions. These are two countries with alarmingly high rates of child malnutrition, and where food is desperately needed. In Iraq, WFP is also facing a funding shortage for school feeding and mother/child health initiatives.

The funding shortfalls are an extremely troubling development. Food is the foundation for peace and development. Tragically, the fight against hunger has not been sufficiently factored in to the strategy for the three countries the senators are visiting. This needs to change quickly.

In Yemen, WFP has not even received $10 million out of $77 million required for a food emergency operation. Other programs WFP hoped to run, like Food for Education, remain suspended. Yet these are the programs that can make a difference in a country. Why are they not being funded?

In Afghanistan, without new funding, WFP will run out of life-saving foods for infant children, like plumpy’nut. Ironically, plumpy’nut is produced in Senator Reed’s home state at the Providence-based Edesia. Yemen also faces a huge plumpy’nut shortage.

It is imperative that the senators, on their trip, pay attention to what matters to the people of Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq. For millions in these countries, it is access to basic foods and nutrition for their children. Their daily struggle is against hunger and malnutrition and it’s a fight we can help them win. That is food for peace.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.