Hunger in the news

17 March 2009

Four humanitarian workers kidnapped in Somalia have been released, United Nations humanitarian agency said. A statement from the Nairobi-based UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued on Monday night said the aid workers, who were with the United Nations Development Programme and the World Food Programme, were released unharmed.

17 March 2009

It is a cliché that Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world. The perils posed by pirates offshore and by bandits and politically motivated armed groups on the mainland are well known. Less appreciated is the scale of the continuous migration from Somalia and its regional implications. [...] Kenya is a signatory of the United Nations Refugee Convention, and all Somalis who make it to Kenya are recognized as "prima facie" refugees -- that is, they need not go through individual interviews to determine their refugee status. Once registered by the U.N. office for refugees, UNHCR, they are entitled to food rations from the World Food Program. But not all goes smoothly. Two years ago, citing security concerns, Kenya closed its border with Somalia. Since then almost 100,000 Somalis fleeing war and drought have still managed to sneak into Kenya. However, since all crossings are now illegal, those refugees who make it to Kenya do not go through the official reception center that made the whole process more orderly.

17 March 2009

Four U.N. humanitarian workers kidnapped on Monday by gunmen in southern Somalia have been freed, hardline Islamist insurgents and the United Nations said. "I can confirm to you that all four aid workers were released from militia who abducted them in Wajid this morning -- unconditionally after a joint effort," al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Muktar Robow Mansoor told Reuters. The United Nations said a small, independently operating group had seized a Somali national working in Wajid and three foreign staff members en route to Kenya from the semi-autonomous northern Somali region of Puntland. [...] Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for aid workers, who have been the targets of assassinations and kidnappings during a two-year insurgency led by Islamist insurgents against the government and foreign backers. The U.N.'s World Food Program has continued to deliver food aid in areas of Somalia controlled by al Shabaab, which is on Washington's list of foreign terrorist groups.

16 March 2009

Gunmen kidnapped four aid workers in southern Somalia on Monday, including one believed to be foreign, a humanitarian source said. "The aid workers were in transit in Wajid, where they spent the night on the way from Puntland. They were taken early on Monday morning," a U.N. worker, who declined to be named, told Reuters, adding that some worked for the U.N. World Food Programme.

6 March 2009

Three months after aid deliveries to the south Somali coastal town of Merka stopped, several thousand displaced people are facing a food and water crisis, sources said. "What little food we had is gone; we have had no help in almost three months," Zeinab Sheikh Hassan told IRIN. "We are in a desperate situation and we need help now." [...] The UN World Food Programme (WFP) halted general distributions in Merka in January because of insecurity – except for some distributions to hospitals and supplementary feeding that has continued. "Our international staff were relocated from Merka at the end of October, but we still have national staff there," WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said. "We are currently asking all local administrations and armed groups in South and Central Somalia to provide security commitments following the killing of two WFP staff within three days in January." WFP has reached agreements in many areas, but Merka has proved to be one of the more difficult. "We are moving toward a solution and will be able to return to full operations soon," Smerdon added.

3 March 2009

Mohamud Hassan Guuleed, the spokesman of WFP for Somalia has said on Tuesday that WFP signed a deal with the Islamic administration in Middle Jubba region in southern Somalia. Mr. Guuled who is in Nairobi told Shabelle radio that the agreement was about how the World Food Program agency would work again in Middle Jubba region afer the Islamic administration in the region accused the aid agencies for supplying an expired food for the people in the region that caused to their work in the region.

26 February 2009

Thousands of Somalis are suffering from malnutrition, a lack of clean water and poor sanitation conditions, putting Somali children at particularly high risk, a United Nations report says. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs cautions that Somalis could become more vulnerable to waterborne diseases, which are responsible for a fifth of the deaths among children under the age of five in Somalia. Some 200,000 Somalia children are “acutely malnourished” and a quarter of them are in need of immediate treatment in order to survive, OCHA says. [...] The U.N says three million Somalis, nearly a third of the population, will remain dependent on humanitarian assistance this year. “We’re seeing a continued deterioration of the nutrition situation in Somalia in certain areas,” said Marcus Prior, a spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP). “I was in Somalia in December in a town on the border with Ethiopia where the nearest proper clinic was 70 kilometers away, with very little option to get there other than by foot,” he told The Media Line. A newly elected president in Somalia could bring positive developments and greater stability, but Marcus said the situation was still difficult.

26 February 2009

How many people still live in Somalia? No one knows. The UN says around 10m. Just as Somalia’s problems of jihadism and piracy have gone global, so have its people. [...] Dozens of aid workers, campaigners and journalists, most of them locals, have been killed in the past year or so. Hundreds more have been beaten, threatened or forced into exile. [...] Just as this correspondent was about to visit southern Somalia with people from the UN’s World Food Programme, the trip was cancelled when two of the agency’s workers were shot dead and a third died on an airstrip waiting for medical help.

22 February 2009

Gunmen kidnapped a Pakistani national working on a farming project in Somalia's semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland on Sunday, a government official said. [...] Two Somali nationals working for the U.N.'s World Food Programme were killed by gunmen last month in the south of the Horn of Africa nation.

20 February 2009

NATO defense ministers have agreed to carry out another anti-piracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced on Thursday. "You can expect to see another, what we call, Standing NATO Maritime Group off the coast of Somalia in the coming months, contributing to the overall international (anti-piracy) effort," he told a press conference at the NATO defense ministers' meeting. He said, however, details of the operation remain to be worked out. The ships will be from the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, which consists of six warships, he said. [...] NATO carried out its first anti-piracy mission off Somalia between October and December 2008. Four NATO warships were deployed, resulting in the safe delivery of 30,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Somalia by the World Food Program.