Pope criticises obstacles to food aid while weapons flow freely

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Rome, June 13 (IANS) Pope Francis on Monday criticised as a “paradox” the multiple bureaucratic, political and economic obstacles to the distribution of food aid to the hungry while weapons flow freely around the world.

Francis made his first visit to the headquarters of the World Food Programme, the UN agency responsible for the distribution of food aid, and was received by WFP director Ertharin Cousin, Efe news reported.

In his address to the WFP Executive Board, the pontiff described as “a strange and paradoxical phenomenon” the web of political decisions, ideological bents and customs barriers hindering aid and development assistance but not the flow of arms.

“It doesn’t matter where they come from, (weapons) circulate with boasting and almost absolute freedom in so many places around the world. Thus, it is wars that get nurtured, not the people. In some cases, hunger is used as a weapon in war,” the pope said.

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“The weakest populations not only suffer from armed conflicts, but also see all kinds of help hindered at the same time. It is urgent to streamline all procedures that prevent humanitarian aid programmes from achieving their goals,” Pope said.

The pope said: “Excessive information gradually generates a ‘normalisation’ of misery (and) step by step, we become indifferent to other people’s tragedies and we accept it as something that is ‘natural'”.

“Let’s be clear. Food scarcity is not something that is natural, it is not just a piece of information or something obvious, evident. That so many people in the 21st century suffer this scourge is the result of a selfish and bad distribution of resources, and of a ‘commercialisation’ of food,” Francis said.


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