Brazil’s Lula Called On to Soften Bush’s Heart on World Poverty

US President Bush The United Nations seems to be failing to deliver on its  first Millennium Development Goal, which is to cut hunger worldwide by half by 2015. In response to this, anti-poverty agency ActionAid is calling on Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to convince world leaders to take action to end hunger.

Lula will be arriving this weekend for the 62nd General Assembly in New York and it is hoped that the Brazilian president will convince President Bush to support nations in their efforts to bring an end to hunger and poverty.

According to ActionAid, the United States is the only nation to block the UN right to food resolution at a time when 854 million people are going hungry across the globe.

"We hope president Lula can persuade George Bush to take a lead on ending hunger so that we start to see a decline in  the numbers going hungry, rather than an increase," said Celso Marcatto, food rights advisor at ActionAid Brazil.

Lula has a track record on food security, initiating the Zero Hunger campaign in Brazil in 2003. This addressed the structural causes of hunger through the provision of safety nets, such as giving poor farmers access to land and ensuring production systems are adapted to local conditions.

Also in New York is Brazilian nut gatherer Cledeneuza Maria Bezerra Oliveira, campaigning for a law for which she – and hundreds of thousands of other women – have been lobbying for years.

The Babassu Free Law would make babassu palm trees accessible to an estimated 400,000 nut collectors in Brazil, even if the trees stand on privately-owned land, enabling the poor to earn a living and make enough to eat.

"I have come to New York to find out why  women like me are not respected enough to own land and make a living from the land – but only to work on it," said Oliveira, who represents the Movement of Babassu Nut Breakers.

Travelling with Oliveira, Alejandra Scampini, ActionAid's Women's Rights Coordinator for the Americas, said: "Cledeneuza is one of millions of women who  have been forced to live a life of hunger.  Hunger is man made, and we're calling for all presidents to end it.  Lula must challenge Bush when he comes to New York to support Brazil and other nations to end hunger."

ActionAid, the international anti-poverty agency, has met the Brazilian mission to the UN, and over 35 other missions, to urge them to organize a special food summit to  implement their Millennium Development Goal 1 promise to halve hunger by 2015.

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in over 40 countries.

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