(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday said that the Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO - must always be in a position to intervene when people do not have enough to eat.
The Pope was addressing staff and employees of the Rome-based United Nations food agency gathered for their 40th General Conference.
FAO’s mission is to help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition across the globe.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
In a message delivered by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope, Francis said that "When a country is incapable of offering adequate responses because its degree of development, conditions of poverty, climate changes or situations of insecurity do not permit this, FAO and the other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action."
The urgency of his words echo FAO Director General José Graziano Da Silva’s dire revelation at the opening of the conference on Monday that the number of hungry people in the world has increased since 2015, reversing years of progress.
Da Silva noted that FAO has identified 19 countries in a protracted crisis situation and said that almost 60 percent of the people suffering from hunger in the world live in countries affected by conflict and climate change.
Thus, highlighting the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger, the Pope said it depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need and said there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations.
Pointing out that the difficulties posed by a world scenario in which wars, terrorism and forced displacements increasingly hinder efforts of cooperation, the Pope decried the fact that hunger and malnutrition are not only the result of natural or structural phenomena, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.
Promising to be present in person at FAO headquarters this coming October 16th to mark World Food Day, Pope Francis made a symbolic contribution to the FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.
This gesture, he said, is offered in addition to the work that the Church continues to carry out, in accordance with her vocation to stand at the side of the earth’s poor and to accompany the effective commitment of all on their behalf.