Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos only need to donate fraction of wealth to save 42 million people from hunger

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Clara Ki Lu
  • The head of the UN’s food scarcity organisation has urged the world’s billionaires to stop people from dying of hunger
  • From Amazon’s founder to Tesla’s CEO, just a fraction of their money could save 42 million lives
Clara Ki Lu |
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David Beasley, executive director of the UN body, has called out Elon Musk to help fight world famine. Photo: Reuters

Forty-two million lives could be saved from hunger if 400 of the world’s richest billionaires were to donate just 0.36 per cent of the increase in their net worth from the past year, the head of the United Nations’ World Food Programme said on Wednesday.

To save 42 million lives, that is US$6 billion dollars – a cost that is only a fraction of some of the world’s richest bank accounts.

In a CNN programme, David Beasley, executive director of the UN body, called out two of the richest people on Earth – Jeff Bezos, founder of e-commerce giant Amazon, and Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla – and urged them to help fight world famine.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is one of the richest people in the world. Photo: AFP

“This is what’s heartbreaking: I’m not asking [the billionaires] to do this every day, every week, every year. We have a one time crisis – a perfect storm of conflict, climate change, and Covid. It’s a one time phenomenon,” Beasley said.

Musk’s net worth rose by US$25 billion on Tuesday alone after Tesla’s stocks soared. According to Forbes, Musk is wealthier than any billionaire it has ever tracked.

Bezos’s net worth has also gone up by US$86 billion since January last year.

Meanwhile, millions of people around the world are suffering from malnutrition. According to the UN, 22.8 million people in Afghanistan – about half of the country’s population – are in acute need of food assistance.

In Ethiopia, 5.2 million people – about 90 per cent of its population – need emergency food assistance, while in Yemen, 16.2 million people are food insecure.

7 facts about global hunger on World Food Day

Beasley urged the world’s billionaires to step up immediately, on a one-time basis.

“US$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated,” he said.

He challenged billionaires to come with him on a trip to see the reality of the starvation crisis.

“Every four seconds, someone’s dying out there from hunger-related causes … [we’ve] got a vaccine for this. It’s called money, food. It’s easy. Billionaires need to step up,” he concluded.


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