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  Middle East & Africa
International Solidarity:
Tunisian President Calls for Allocating One Dollar Per Oil Barrel to Combat World Famine
H.E. Mr. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, president of the Republic of Tunisia

Undoubtedly the excessive rise of oil prices endangers the economies of countries which are not producers of this natural resource.

This chaotic wave of foolish prices, that speculators are behind according to experts, constraints non producer and consumer countries of oil to allocate the bulk of their revenues to import oil. This means to renounce to several programs of development, of upgrading infrastructure, of constructing schools and hospitals and of creating jobs.

Images broadcasted, throughout the world, by TV channels, demonstrating millions of haggard refugees fleeing starvation, with women, children and elderly people looking for food, call for the solidarity of all nations to stop this devastating plague, the famine.

The President of an African and Arab country, an emergent Country, has made original proposal. It is the proposal of the president of the Republic of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who called upon all oil-rich Countries to deduct one Dollar per oil barrel to be offered as a contribution to the World Solidarity Fund, which was established by the United Nations following Tunisia's initiative, to serve the noble humanitarian goal of protecting Humanity from new risks resulting from the unprecedented rise of prices of oil and raw materials on the world markets.

The Tunisian President has implemented, at the national scale, a national solidarity fund, with tangible results that can be seen nowadays. Such a fund, financed by the donations of Tunisians at voluntary basis, has allowed, over the past decade, for thousands of families to get out of poverty, by assuring to them all the conditions of a decent and better life.

The success of this Tunisian experience through which Tunisia has become a model to follow on the international scale for several countries, has led President Ben Ali to propose it to the international community by calling to create a World Solidarity Fund with the main role to eradicate poverty in poorest countries.

In a speech he delivered in Carthage, on April 2008, in presence of French President Nicolas Sakozy, the Tunisian Head of State has come up with a new proposal to the entire world: He invited rich oil countries to deposit one dollar, for each oil barrel, into the World Solidarity Fund to enable it to accomplish its noble mission of fighting against poverty. It is about a new vision that illustrates the determination of Tunisian President to fight against the terrible dangers that the famine, which rages already in many regions of the world, presents for the future of Humanity.

The Tunisian Head of State has recently reasserted his proposal in his address delivered to the attention of the participants to the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development TICAD, held in Japan on May 2008, as well as in his speech addressed to the International Community during the FAO high level Conference on "World Food Security: Challenges of Climate Changes and Bio-energy," held recently in Rome.

In a an exposé he has made on the World food crisis and the outcome of the Rome Summit, H.E Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations paid tribute to the Tunisian Initiative.

Answering the different points raised by representatives of the UN member States attending the Un General Assembly, Where a clear interest was manifested to undertake a firm action aiming to activate a mechanism contributing to relief millions of persons from the peril of famine, Un secretary General Ban Ki-Moon evoked Tunisian's President Ben Ali's initiative by saying: " President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's call to the International Community to contribute to the financing of the World Solidarity Fund, by deducting one Dollar per barrel of oil to increase its resources and mobilize them for the service of war on hunger and poverty in the world, is a target that deserves all our attention."

The Tunisian experience of the National Solidarity Fund is so conclusive. When President Ben Ali decided to create this national fund on 1989, the idea underpinning it was that no Tunisian family should still living marginalized or experiencing extreme poverty. Nowadays, this challenge is at the point to be met in this African country where the poverty rate has been brought down to nearly 3.8 % and the per capita GNP has been multiplied five times, over the past 20 years, going up from less than 800 USD in 1987 to 3700 USD in 2007.

Today we often mention the role of speculators to explain the considerable rise of oil prices. Whatever the causes, it is a catastrophe that falls down over the heads of poor countries, constrained to renounce to their meager revenues for the profit of oil giants.

A catastrophe announcing difficult times not only for poor country but also for the secured ones because misery is contagious and all the barriers and restrictive measures to counter immigration are proved to be useless against the flood of populations attracted by the lights and the mirages of wealth and fortune.

So it is rather worthy to consent an international effort of solidarity by deposing just one dollar per barrel oil into the world solidarity fund and may be by such humanitarian action we could contribute to a better stability for our populations and finally to peace throughout the world so threatened today by the famine specter.

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