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Press Release 98/54 

GEORGE CLOONEY, MELANIE GRIFFITH, BARBARA HENDRICKS, SOPHIA LOREN, MIRIAM MAKEBA AND OTHER CELEBRITIES JOIN THE FAO CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUNGER


Rome, September 14 - American film stars George Clooney and Melanie Griffith, as well as other leading figures of the entertainment world, including Barbara Hendricks, Sophia Loren and Miriam Makeba have joined the campaign against world hunger and malnutrition led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). On the occasion of the 55th annual Venice International Film Festival, more than 25 celebrities signed the text of FAO's Appeal Against Hunger. Some of the stars also recorded television spots intended to focus attention on the problem of world hunger.

The appeal states that the signatories, "find it unacceptable that over 800 million people in the world, including 200 million children under the age of five, should continue to suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition." It also states: "This is all the more outrageous in a world of surplus and waste.

The endorsements come just weeks before FAO's annual TeleFood broadcast on October 16-18. TeleFood aims to raise public awareness of the problems of hunger and malnutrition and funds to underwrite grassroots projects that will help the poorest farmers in the world's least developed countries escape from poverty and hunger. The telecast coincides with World Food Day, October 16. It is part of the FAO follow-up to the November 1996 World Food Summit where Heads of State and Government and other representatives of 186 countries declared the amount of hunger and malnutrition in the world intolerable and unacceptable and pledged their political will and determination to at least cut by half the number of hungry people in the world by 2015.

The television spots produced by FAO during the Venice film festival and at other events, like the Cannes film festival and important sporting events, will be used as promotional spots in programs to be broadcast as part of TeleFood on 16-18 October by many of the world's television stations.

"I am supporting TeleFood and FAO's campaign against hunger because it outrages me that more than 800 million people are denied the most basic of human rights - the right to food," said Sophia Loren in the spot she recorded for TeleFood, adding, "Together we can fight indifference."

Celebrated South African singer Miriam Makeba, at a recent concert in the Italian town L'Aquila, dedicated the song "Masakhane" to TeleFood. She also denounced the scandal of hunger and malnutrition, saying: "Men, women and children of good will, we must stop hunger in the world. We can if we want to and we must."

Like celebrity football player Ronaldo last year, this year, some major sports figures have announced their support for the FAO campaign against hunger. They include tennis players Michael Chang, Carlos Moya and Greg Rusedski as well as the runner and Olympic champion Haïle Gebrselassie of Ethiopia.

Other entertainers signing the FAO Appeal include, Alessandro D' Alatri, Asia Argento, Cate Blanchett, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Abel Ferrara, François Girard, Valeria Golino, Daniele Luchetti, Valeria Marini, Valerio Mastandrea, Chiara Mastoianni, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Michele Placido, Stefania Rocca, Regis Royer, Sergio Rubini, Fernando Solanas, Alberto Sordi, Enrico Lo Verso, Lina Wertmullër and Elsa Zilberstein.

TeleFood, which with be broadcast via satellite, is also a fundraising event. Last year, more than $2 million was raised, which has already funded 136 new agricultural development micro-projects helping small farmers, herders and artisanal fishers in the world's poorest countries.

This year, the TeleFood theme, "Women Feed the World," was chosen by FAO to stress the role of women in agriculture, food preparation and nutrition. Women produce more than half of the world's food and in rural areas of the developing world, they provide up to 80 percent of the food consumed in their own homes. Yet, according to FAO, they have restricted social privileges and few rights to own the land they farm."

During the Venice Film Festival, Actress Valeria Marini, in addition to recording a spot for FAO, launched a new lipstick. Part of the proceeds from sales of the lipstick will go to agricultural development projects in the least developed countries of the world.

* * * * *

For further information please contact:

John Riddle
FAO Information Officer
Tel. 39 06 5705 3259
Fax 39 06 5705-3699
e-mail: john.riddle@fao.org

 


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