Hunger in the news

6 May 2009

Relief agencies are concerned that anti-piracy efforts are diverting attention and resources from the plight of these refugees and hundreds of thousands in even more desperate camps in Somalia. (...) A funding shortfall also forced the U.N. World Food Program to reduce rations in the camps — the refugees' only source of food — by 17 percent last month. After a $10 million internal loan, the agency expects to resume full food distribution within weeks.

5 May 2009

The Somali hijacking problem goes from bad to worse (...). Foreign navies are operating in the area and are on a daily basis coming across skiffs filled with bandits armed to the teeth. Their rules of engagement are to only confiscate their arms and to then release them. The bandits simply return to shore and rearm themselves from the plentiful cache of weapons that was provided to protect them from the rebels in the Darfur region. They then return to sea in the plentiful skiffs and with the plentiful petrol that was all provided by the World Food Programme to enable the Somalis to establish a fishing industry.

29 April 2009

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding its storage capacity in the port of Berbera in the self-declared republic of Somaliland to boost aid delivery in the Horn of Africa region, officials said. "In conjunction with the authorities in Somaliland, WFP has expanded its storage capacity in order to enhance its Somalia operations as well as transit food aid cargo required in the region," Mahamud Hassan Guled, WFP Somalia’s senior public information assistant, told IRIN in Nairobi.

25 April 2009

On a moonless night, a Canadian naval frigate intercepts a Somali skiff in a battle fought for consumers. Hmcs Winnipeg was 60 km south of the Front Ardenne when she came under attack. Cdr. Baines immediatly sensed his best move wasto cut across the pirates'path before they could reach the safety of the shore. He arranged for a US ship to take over their escort of a World Food Program grain shipment, and broke off in pursuit.

22 April 2009

Humanitarian workers are worried that clashes in Somalia's central town of Beletweyne, 340km north of Mogadishu, and the current rains, could hinder aid efforts in the area. Hundreds of families have been displaced by the clashes, pitting militias of the Union of Islamic Courts, which supports the Government of National Unity, against the pro-opposition Hisbul-Islami. Mahamud Hassan Guled, a senior public information assistant for the UN World Food Programme (WFP-Somalia), said on 21 April the agency had distributed 3675.52 metric tonnes of food to 181,314 people in Hiiran Region in the last two weeks but "our food distributions to the west of Beletweyne town were affected by the conflict on Monday [20 April]". However, Guled said WFP was hopeful the distributions would continue.

22 April 2009

The U.S. Navy, various European Union Navies, and even South Korea and Japan have sent military vessels to the disputed region. The EU's ``Operation Atalanta'' has currently deployed five frigates from France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Results have paid off. Last year the World Food Program delivered 260,000 tons of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, quadrupling the amount delivered in 2007. Over two million starving Somalis were fed, largely thanks to maritime protection for cargo vessels.

22 April 2009

Dutch marines board a fishing boat and free two dozen Yemenis from Somali pirates. They seize and destroy AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher but then put the nine bandits back in their skiff and set them free. (...) Both NATO and the European Union have multinational flotillas operating under a mandate from the U.N. Security Council which tasks them with escorting World Food Program ships and with patrolling the seas around the Horn of Africa. The mandate says nothing about how to treat captured pirates.

22 April 2009

(...) Years ago we used to fish a lot, enough for us to eat and sell in the markets. Then illegal fishing and dumping of toxic wastes by foreign fishing vessels affected our livelihood, depleting the fish stocks. I had no other choice but to join my colleagues. The first hijack I attended was in February 2007 when we seized a World Food Programme-chartered ship with 12 crew. I think it had the name of MV Rozen and we released it after two months, with a ransom.

21 April 2009

Somali pirates have released a Lebanese-owned cargo ship seized last week as it headed to pick up food aid for Africa, a UN spokesman said today. The Togo-flagged MV Sea Horse was released on Friday, UN World Food Program spokesman Peter Smerdon said, citing the ship's operators. He had no more details and it was not known if a ransom was paid. The release was rare good news in the pirate crisis plaguing the Horn of Africa. Pirates still hold at least 17 other ships and around 300 crew. Most ships are held for multi-million-dollar ransoms.

21 April 2009

Somali pirates have released a Togo-flagged vessel that was seized last week, the World Food Programme said Monday. Pirates on four skiffs seized the 5,000-ton MV Sea Horse on Tuesday. "We hear from the operators of the ship that it was released on Friday," said Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the World Food Program in Nairobi. The ship was not under U.N. charter at the time of the hijacking. But it was on its way to Mumbai, India, to inaugurate a new route for the organization to deliver food from India to Mogadishu, Somalia, Smerdon said. Piracy is rampant in the Gulf of Aden off the coasts of Somalia and Kenya with vessels seized regularly and often released only after a large ransom is paid.