“Zero Hunger”, that is to say, a warranty that all human beings on the planet have access to a equitable distribution of resources and wealth. No longer three worlds, kept apart by various welfare thresholds, but one sole world, where the full satisfaction of basic needs will be guaranteed: food, water, housing, and health. Pope Francis expressed this hope during his visit to the headquarters of the World Food Programme (WFP) – the UN agency that aims to clear the problem of hunger – in Rome. A slap in the face of humanity, which presently concerns 795 million people and is considered more dangerous to health than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria effects put together.
In 2015, WFP offered food assistance to 76.7 million people in 81 countries. It provided school meals and home food rations to about 15.7 million children in emergency or post-emergency areas. Last year, it offered aid to 6.1 million refugees, 16.4 million internally displaced, and 1.3 million people who had returned. With 13,500 employees committed to assisting an average of 90 million people in 80 countries around the world, WFP is the largest humanitarian organization in the world. Ms. Ertharin Cousin, whom the Pope called “a courageous woman”, is the twelfth UN Executive Directorm in office since April 2012. She officially greeted Pope Francis in the Hall of the WFP headquarters in Rome and introduced the employees and their families to the Pontiff in the asylum garden, next to the WFP headquarters. Actually, Cousin talked about the WFP employees as a “family that works every day not to leave anyone hungry”.
The goal is an ambitious one: zero hunger by 2030. Nevertheless, to achieve it, it is first necessary to raise awareness on a global level. The same awareness Bergoglio lashed without mincing words. According to the Pope, we risk to “naturalize misery” and get used to the pain of the others, thus losing any kind of empathy towards the suffering. It may create a cynical world, where individual tragedies – with the indirect complicity of an information overload determined by the numerous media – are reduced to nothing but “news” we read with disengagement. “Lack of food is not a natural thing – Bergoglio made it clear -, it is neither obvious nor granted. Today, in the twenty-first century, many people still suffer because of this plague and it happens because of people’s selfish and bad distribution of resources, that is, because of a process of commodification of food.” Waste, which is very similar to “stealing from the table of the poor,” is another reason of this scourge. From the 70’s to today, the amount of food that ends up in landfills has increased by 50%. About 1/3 of the amount of food produced is thrown away worldwide. It was discussed at Expo 2015 and soon it will be discussed again, because food production does not only entail a huge waste of resources, including water, but also pollution.
Finally, there is the problem of war. The Holy Father addressed this issue also in his speech to WFP. Different areas of the planet, especially in the Middle East and in Africa, are hostage to terrorism. The military action of the Western coalitions and governments or local militias has led many cities to suffer a long siege. This circumstance makes it difficult to send humanitarian aid there, but does not hinder (as the Pope said) the arrival of weapons. Blatant hypocrisy that uses “hunger” as a means of destruction. Whereas arm trade keeps thriving. According to the latest report by the International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in Stockholm, the war industry, after four years of decline, is growing again. In 2015, the production and sale of weapons generated a 1.676 billion dollar market, with an increase of 1% compared to 2014. And the more the shadow of war spreads, the more unbearable becomes the cry of pain that rises from this hungry and abandoned humanity. For those who are still capable of listening…