Food crisis could trigger spiral of inequality

23rd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

UN high commissioner warns ongoing world food crisis could trigger domino effect of exclusion and inequality if not handled correctly.

23 May 2008

GENEVA - The world food crisis could trigger a "domino effect" of exclusion and inequality if not handled correctly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour warned Thursday.

She was addressing the opening of a special day-long session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to discuss soaring food prices that have caused riots in some parts of the world.

"At its core and in its punitive effects, this crisis boils down to a lack of access to adequate food. Such access is a right protected in international law," Arbour told the Council.

"The ongoing emergency may also reinforce long-entrenched patterns of exclusion and discrimination that have prevented the most vulnerable from claiming their rightful access to food in the first place."

The crisis stemmed from distortions in supply and demand, unfair trade practices, as well as skewed policies involving incentives or subsidies.

"Natural disasters or misguided policies - or both - compound already severe situations and render them catastrophic for the most discriminated and marginalised populations," she added.

She said governments needed to look at long-term solutions as well as immediate emergency relief with those populations most affected helping to draft the appropriate response.

Such an approach would, she said, help "clarify the imbalances in a society that trigger or exacerbate the food crisis" and help the vicious circle of discrimination and hunger.

A failure to act in a comprehensive manner could also "trigger a domino effect" with those most at risk forced to forego other basic essentials such as health or education in their struggle to feed themselves and their families.

[dpa / Expatica]

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