Development Workers from
War-Affected Nations Warn on Hunger

With wars and armed conflicts dominating the political agenda of the United Nations' 62nd General Assembly, the anti-poverty agency, ActionAid, says that the UN must do more to address the hidden costs of war: increased hunger and poverty. Of the 39 countries facing food crises in mid 2006, 25 were caused by conflict.

"In Northern Uganda, war has been waging for over 20 years. We can't turn bullets into bread, and sadly, bullets are about all we have plenty of," says Paul Ojuman, District Initiative Coordinator at ActionAid Uganda.

The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo claimed over 4 million lives, the majority by disease or famine, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. It involved twenty armed groups from nine countries in what quickly became a scramble to control mineral, diamond and timber wealth in a failing state. The conflict in the Darfur region of Western Sudan between the Janjaweed, a government-supported Arab militia, and non-Arabs has, by some estimates, claimed 200,000 lives and displaced nearly 2 million people in what many are calling genocide.

"The Conflict in Northern Uganda resulted in farmers having no access to their land. The ability to produce their own food was compromised, and now they are totally dependent on food aid," Mr. Ojuman said.

"When there is war, farmers are less able to tend to their fields and care for their livestock. Produce can't safely go to markets. Populations starve," said Thomas Johnny, Policy Research Manager, ActionAid Sierra Leone.

"Struggles with increased hunger, poverty, and death often continue long after a conflict ends. War in Sierra Leone concluded six years ago, yet one out of five people still go to bed hungry," Mr. Johnny added.

The number of undernourished people in five African countries crippled by conflict over the past 15 years -- Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- tripled from 12 million to 36 million.

"Millions of families are going hungry world wide due to war and conflicts," said Mr. Ojuman. "Such tragedies are man-made and must be prevented at all costs."

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in over 40 countries, taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together. For more information, visit ActionAid on the Internet.

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