Hunger in the news

22 January 2009

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said it is seeking a secure operating environment from all local administrations and armed groups in South and Central Somalia to allow the agency to continue providing life-saving assistance in the wake of the killings of two WFP staff. "Our only goal in Somalia as an impartial international organisation is to alleviate the suffering of the Somali people," said WFP Deputy Chief Operating Officer Ramiro Lopes da Silva. "We cannot do that when our courageous staff are being targeted." Expressing outrage at the killings by gunmen on January 6 and 8, Lopes da Silva said WFP considered, but opted not to suspend food distributions in South and Central Somalia because this would only increase the suffering of innocent people during a possible power struggle after the pullout of Ethiopian forces.

22 January 2009

The UN's food agency said Thursday it needed guarantees on its employees' security in Somalia, hinting it could soon halt deliveries in some areas. Four World Food Programme (WFP) employees have been killed in the war-torn Horn of Africa country since August last year, two of them this month. "We will not stop food distribution yet but (sic). We will distribute all the food that we currently have inside Somalia" or on its way there, WFP chief Peter Goossens said at a press conference in Nairobi. The WFP said it was in the process of delivering 57,000 metric tonnes of food in southern and central Somalia, enough to feed 2.5 million people for one to two months.

22 January 2009

The World Food Programme has halted its food shipments to Somalia in a high-stakes attempt to press local warlords to rein in violence that has killed two of its employees this month. Peter Goossens, Somalia country director of the United Nations agency, said the WFP would distribute the food left in its Somali warehouses but he warned that it would run out by early March if it was not replenished by fresh shipments. He said the WFP would only reopen its “pipeline” – a reference to the sea and land routes through which it ships food from the Kenyan port of Mombassa – when it had received security guarantees from local administrations, warlords and armed militias that control the areas where it operates. It is a high-risk move for the agency because the difficulty of pacifying highly fragmented armed groups is one reason why Somalia has become a lawless and destitute failed state since its central government collapsed in 1991.

19 January 2009

The NATO secretary general on Monday praised the Chinese navy's anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and indicated NATO's willingness to work with China on the issue. [...] NATO deployed four warships off Somalia in October to escort World Food Program food shipments to Somalia and to patrol the seas to deter piracy. Its mission ended in December. But the alliance is considering a long-term strategy on the piracy issue and stands ready to consider further requests for the use of its naval assets in this regard.

6 January 2009

A roadside bomb killed a Ugandan soldier in Somalia's capital on Tuesday and masked gunmen murdered a man working for the United Nation's World Food Programme in the southwest of the Horn of Africa nation. The killings come as Ethiopian troops who have been propping up an interim government and fighting Islamist insurgents for the past two years are pulling out of Somalia, saying their mission has been accomplished.

5 January 2009

African Union officials in Somalia have told the BBC pro-government forces in the capital Mogadishu are plugging gaps left by departing Ethiopian troops. A BBC correspondent says pro-government forces face an array of insurgents which has so far proved stronger. African Union peacekeepers on Sunday said they may have no option but to leave unless their mandate is boosted and their troop numbers bolstered.

5 January 2009

The UN top relief official for Somalia said on Monday that fresh fighting in Somalia has uprooted another 50,000 Somalis, further worsening the already severe humanitarian crisis.

2 January 2009

The UN children's fund UNICEF has introduced a new emergency nutrition intervention to prevent malnutrition in over 100,000 of the most vulnerable children in Somalia. A statement from the UN agency received here on Friday said the Plumpy'doz is the latest generation of ready-to-use food designed to satisfy the nutritional needs of young children aged 6 to 36 months and supplement available food from general food distributions by partners such as the World Food Program (WFP) as well as other traditional food sources.