September 16, 2009 / 9:43 AM / 9 years ago

World food aid at 20-year low, 1 billion hungry

LONDON (Reuters) - Food aid is at a 20-year low despite the number of critically hungry people soaring this year to its highest level ever, the United Nations relief agency said Wednesday.

A Somali woman holds her malnourished child along the corridors at Banadir hospital in the capital Mogadishu, August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Ismail Taxta

The number of hungry people will pass 1 billion this year for the first time, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said, adding that it is facing a serious budget shortfall.

To date the WFP has confirmed $2.6 billion in funding for its 2009 budget of $6.7 billion.

“This comes at a time of great vulnerability for the hungry,” the WFP said in a statement.

“Millions have been buffeted by the global financial downturn, their ability to buy food is limited by stubbornly high prices. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns are causing more weather-related hunger,” the WFP said.

Editing by Anthony Barker

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