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UN Forms Task Force to Deal With Global Food Crisis


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has formed a high-level task force to deal with the global food crisis. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau has the story.

Mr. Ban just returned from a trip to Europe and West Africa where he says the gravity of the global food crisis dominated discussions. He says some leaders warned him that the crisis could derail efforts to recover from years of conflict.

"If not properly handled, this crisis could cascade into multiple crises affecting trade, development and even social and political security around the world," said Ban Ki-moon. "The livelihoods of hundreds and millions of people are threatened."

Mr. Ban says promising steps to address emergency needs have been taken in recent days. But he says the United Nations must take the lead in dealing with the longer-term challenges, particularly efforts to boost agricultural development in affected regions.

"I have called on leaders not to take measures that distort trade and push up prices," he said. "We need immediate action to get seed, fertilizer and other agricultural inputs to the world's small farmers. This crisis did not come out of the blue. It grew out of more than a decade of neglect and ineffective development policies. We need a new start."

Mr. Ban says the new task force will study the root causes of the crisis and propose solutions to be executed decisively. He will attend the task force's first meeting next Monday.

He has asked U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes to head the effort. David Nabarro, senior coordinator for the U.N.'s avian flu task force, will serve as deputy.

Mr. Ban is inviting world leaders to join him in Rome in June for a world summit on the issue.

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