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U.N. hunger agency chief follows up tweet exchange with Elon Musk with plea to billionaires

UN World Food Programme chief warns of famines without more aid
Head of UN's World Food Programme warns of famines without more international aid 05:11

United Nations — Billionaires can help save millions of girls and boys from starving, U.N.'s food and hunger agency chief David Beasley told CBS News Radio from Rome. His comments come after a back-and-forth with billionaire Elon Musk, who said he'd give up some of his wealth, if the U.N. agency could prove publicly exactly where the money is going. 

"We need the help of billionaires who have made so much money during COVID – unprecedented wealth – this is a one-time ask. Please help us. Please help us save little girls and little boys," Beasely said Friday.  

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX replied to a U.N. tweet on Wednesday asking the World Food Programme to show how $6 billion would solve world hunger and saying he would sell Tesla stock, adding that the U.N.'s proof would have to be open source, so the public sees precisely how the money is spent. 

On Wednesday, Beasley tweeted the U.N.'s accounting, explaining that the money is needed to solve the current crisis, not all world hunger, tagged to Musk. 

"We're facing a perfect storm because of conflict, climate change and compounded by COVID.  The number of people knocking on famine's door now is unprecedented – 42 million people," he told CBS News on Friday. "And, if we don't reach them you will have famine, destabilization nations, and mass migration. And the price tag is $7 billion that we need for them."  

In Beasley's tweet was a breakdown of where the money goes.  

Musk may be serious about donating, but he also could have been making a point about the World Food Programme and other international aid organizations spending money in overhead and costs — retweeting a cartoon that depicted aid diminishing before it reached the starving child's mouth. 

Beasley, a former governor of South Carolina, did not mention Musk by name on Friday, saying billionaires are the most needed now to help the immediate starvation needs of millions.

"That's why I'm asking the billionaires for a one-time step-up 'cause governments are tapped out. And we've gotta get through this incredible 'Perfect Storm' time period," he told CBS News.  

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