Indonesia calls for UN action on high food prices

April 24th, 2008 - 6:50 am ICT by admin  

New York, April 24 (DPA) Indonesia said Wednesday that the UN should adopt measures against rising prices for food commodities to prevent a full-scale crisis worldwide. Jakarta’s UN Ambassador Marty Natalegawa said there had been piecemeal reaction to world food prices but not yet concerted short-term or long-term plans to deal with the issue.

“We need a holistic approach involving the UN, and we as governments have to come up with solutions,” Natalegawa said.

Indonesia is currently a UN Security Council member.

Natalegawa said he has suggested a high-level summit on the food issue to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and received an assurance that the matter will be brought up to UN members.

But Natalegawa said there was difficulty in scheduling such a meeting in the already heavy UN General Assembly agenda. He suggested holding a food summit following the scheduled meeting of the 192-nation General Assembly in early September on the Millennium Development Goals, one of which deals with reduction of poverty and hunger.

If a food summit cannot be held at UN headquarters in New York, Jakarta would step in to organize and host an event because of the urgency of the issue, Natalegawa said.

“There is now an excess of attention on the issue, but there should be a clear roadmap to deal with it,” he said.

The food crisis has already caught the attention of the World Bank, the UN and many Western governments. The issue will be discussed in the July G8 summit in Japan of the world’s biggest industrialized economies and Russia.

Natalegawa drew a parallel to the tsunami that devastated the Indian Ocean coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province in 2005, saying that the worldwide response had helped his country’s long-term recovery. He said the lessons of the tsunami response should be applied to prevent a spiraling worldwide food crisis.

The high food prices triggered riots earlier this month in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince resulting in at least six deaths including a UN police officer from Nigeria. The Haitian government was replaced in the wake of the unrest.

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