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Near Record High Food Prices Keep Poorest on Edge

Xinhua News Agency, August 16, 2011 Adjust font size:

Global food prices at near record high levels in tandem with continued volatility put the poorest people in the developing world on the edge, the World Bank said on Monday.

Over the last three months, reportedly 29,000 children under five have died in Somalia and 600,000 children in the region remain at risk in the ongoing crisis that is threatening the lives of more than 12 million people, according to the World Bank's Food Price Watch released on Monday.

"Nowhere are high food prices, poverty and instability combining to produce tragic suffering more than in the Horn of Africa," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

"The World Bank is stepping up with short term help through safety nets to the poor and the vulnerable in places like Kenya and Ethiopia, along with medium term support for economic recovery. Long term support is also critical to build drought resilience and implement climate-smart farming," Zoellick added.

The Washington-based World Bank said it is providing US$686 million to save lives, improve social protection and facilitate economic recovery and drought resilience for people in the Horn of Africa.

Global food prices in July remained significantly higher than a year ago. Prices overall remained 33 percent higher than a year ago with commodities such as maize, sugar, wheat and soybean oil contributing in a major way to the price spike, revealed the Food Price Watch.

Crude oil prices were 45 percent higher from July 2010 levels, affecting production costs and the price of fertilizers, which increased by 67 percent over the same period, according to the report.

"Persistently high food prices and low food stocks indicate that we're still in the danger zone, with the most vulnerable people the least able to cope," Zoellick said.

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