Disaster confab focuses on hunger, disease

Jan. 20, 2005 at 1:58 PM

KOBE, Japan, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The U.N. World Food Program chief says hunger or related diseases claim nine times as many lives as war or natural disasters.

In the wake of the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunamis, WFP Executive Director James Morris Thursday said this stress is a new direction for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan. It has so far concentrated on creating a global early warning system for natural disasters.

"Let me issue one word of warning," he told 4,000 delegates from 150 countries at the conclave. "The chronic hunger and malnutrition that afflicts 300 million children worldwide does not create the dramatic media coverage of a tsunami, but it causes far greater suffering. We cannot afford to lose sight of that fact. This too is an emergency."

Morris pointed out WFP has been instrumental in setting up HEWSweb, or Humanitarian Early Warning Service, a Web site that combines data about natural hazards from multiple sources.

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