Hunger in the news

25 March 2009

A combination of stopgap measures by United Nations agencies and the Sudanese government has kept aid flowing in the world’s largest relief program in Darfur, but the makeshift effort cannot be sustained, John Holmes, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, said Tuesday. (...) The World Food Program, a United Nations agency that will remain in Sudan, used to deliver food through many of the agencies that were shut down. The program delivered food for March and April to 1.1 million people by using local committees, but another method will have to be found, Mr. Holmes said.

24 March 2009

Aid workers fear the crunch will come in a few weeks as supplies run low. At the same time, it is feared that waterborne infectious diseases, such as cholera, could increase in the coming rainy season. Many basic services, such as maintaining boreholes, were run by the expelled agencies. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has started a "one-off distribution of two months' food rations to beneficiaries in areas formerly covered by the expelled NGOs", the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. "This, however, is unsustainable in the long run due to limited capacity and the need for monitoring and accountability," OCHA warned on 22 March.

23 March 2009

Leaders at Kalma displacement camp in southern Darfur refuse aid from both international and government agencies, demanding that Sudan first allow 13 expelled foreign aid groups back. (...) The self-imposed aid embargo at Kalma camp, which includes the monthly food distribution, is heightening concerns about the welfare of the 88,000 residents. The World Food Program said Kalma leaders Thursday refused a grain delivery. The U.N. food agency faced similar resistance a week earlier.

23 March 2009

The expulsion of organizations that provided clean water, medical treatment, food and shelter for millions of Sudanese in the war-racked region of Darfur has thrown the world’s largest aid operation into disarray, putting the lives of millions of displaced people at risk. The Sudanese government has pledged that local aid groups and government agencies will fill the gap, and that assistance from the World Food Program and other United Nations agencies still operating in Darfur will help avert an immediate crisis of widespread water and food shortages.

17 March 2009

Zam Zam Camp, Sudan [...] International aid groups and the United Nations are scrambling to fill the gaps left by the expulsion of the 13 foreign aid groups, including several of the largest providers of food, clean water, education and healthcare to Darfur's displacement camps. Most are cautiously optimistic that they can avert the near-term catastrophe that would come with the lack of essentials such as food and water. The World Food Program has begun an emergency distribution of a two-month supply to the most affected areas. UNICEF is focusing on delivering extra fuel to run about three dozen crucial water stations. [...] But [...] people are already falling through the cracks, particularly in the areas of healthcare and disease prevention.

16 March 2009

The kidnapping of three Western aid workers in Sudan's Darfur region marks a significant escalation of insecurity for relief agencies deployed in the conflict-ridden area. Canadian nurse Laura Archer, Italian doctor Mauro D'Ascanio, and French coordinator Raphaël Meunier, as well as their Sudanese watchman Sharif Mohamadin, all working for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, were safely released Saturday by unknown gunmen after three days in captivity. A rebel leader and analysts say the kidnapping and recent expulsion of 13 aid groups are part of a government strategy to scare away remaining aid workers and break up camps housing Sudanese civilians who have fled the war.

14 March 2009

Three foreign aid workers abducted in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur three days ago have been released. The Medecins Sans Frontieres staff - a French administrator, a Canadian nurse and an Italian doctor - were safely back in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. They were freed on Saturday along with a Sudanese national, having been abducted at gunpoint on Wednesday. "We are incredibly relieved that our colleagues are safe," said Christopher Stokes, a senior MSF official.

12 March 2009

[...] President Omar al-Bashir's response to his indictment last week by the International Criminal Court has certainly been defiant: the immediate expulsion of nearly half the aid workers providing food, medicine and shelter to millions of victims of the 6-year-old war in the Darfur region. Many observers fear the small hopes for compromise have grown even smaller. The first international attempt to prosecute a sitting head of state is likely to turn into a long standoff, with the people of Darfur suffering the most.

12 March 2009

Several relief organisations from Arab and Asian countries have applied to work in the western Sudanese Darfur region to replace agencies expelled or stopped from working there, a senior official said. "We have received many applications from Arab and Asian countries," Sudanese State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, said. "They want to go to Darfur." The applicants include the Red Crescent Societies of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Several doctors and medical supplies were also being sent to Darfur. [...] The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it had lost 35 percent of its food distribution capacity through the expulsion of four of its implementing partners - Save the Children USA, Action Against Hunger, Solidarités and Care International. "WFP does not have the capacity to fill this gap," said spokeswoman Emilia Casella. "Unless the NGOs are allowed to resume their activities, people are going to go hungry."

12 March 2009

Three aid workers from the Belgian office of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have been kidnapped in Sudan's North Darfur region, the medical organisation has said. A Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French co-ordinator were among five staff members seized on Wednesday night by a group of armed men in Saraf Umra, MSF said on Thursday. [...] The attack on the Belgian MSF branch comes days after the French and Dutch contingents of the aid organisation were kicked out of Darfur. They were among 13 aid groups order to leave Sudan after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, for alleged war crimes in Darfur. [...] The World Food Programme (WFP) says its four of its partner relief agencies expelled from Darfur were looking after 35 per cent of food distribution to the region.