The annual U.N. General Assembly has generated sometimes powerful comments by world leaders on issues involving North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and the flight of minority Muslims from Myanmar as more than 100 heads of state and government gather in New York.
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Funding for the United Nations World Food Program is substantial compared with other times in the agency's history, but more is needed to meet global needs, the agency's executive director said.
The United States is responsible for more than half the funding, David Beasley, executive director of the program, said this week during side briefings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“That clearly indicates that the United States is not backing down [from] the humanitarian side of international issues," Beasley told reporters.
Beasley, a Republican and former South Carolina governor who was nominated by President Trump to head the world's largest food agency, said his first objective in assuming the position in April “was to protect U.S. funding and other major donor funding at a time period where we were facing the worst humanitarian crisis.”
Of the WFP's $3.2 billion in funding, $1.7 billion is from the United States, Beasley said. Also of note was that funding for the WFP was passed with bipartisan support from legislators, he said.
“To see them find something that they could rally around, [something] positive … to help hungry children, it was a very significant message to the world,” Beasley said.
In July, at the Group of 20 summit in Germany, Trump pledged $639 million more in food and humanitarian assistance for fiscal year 2018 for South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen — countries hard hit by famine.
“That was a major shift,” Beasley said. “I feel like we’ve turned a great corner in [that] America’s not going to back down. Now the president is saying the U.N. truly has a purpose. It needs to be reformed. Everyone agrees with that.”
Beasley said that even though the WFP has substantial donations, “the needs are not being met.”
“The gulf states with all of their wealth should be funding the humanitarian crisis in their region of the world: Syria, Iraq, Yemen," Beasley said, noting that the U.S. and Britain were among the largest donors helping Syrians, whose country remains devastated by civil war. “It’s absolutely inexcusable.”
Beasley also emphasized the need for the international community to do more to end the conflicts that have contributed to so many people being left hungry or starving.