Hunger in the news

A daily selection of news reports from the world's media dealing with hunger and responses to it.
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Hunger in the news
21 April 2009

Somali pirates release food aid ship

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.
CNN
Hunger in the news
21 April 2009

Somali pirates fire on cargo ships in Gulf of Aden

Pirates let the Sea Horse go after two Dubai-based Somali businessmen intervened and paid off the pirates, said Somali clan elder Abdisalan Khalif Ahmed. The pair had been contracted by the World Food Program to pick up and deliver the food, he told The Associated Press from Harardhere, the Somali port where the freighter had been hauled to by pirates. The businessmen "pledged to cover the expenses of the pirates who have been out to sea for ten days," Ahmed said. (..) The U.N. food agency denied any knowledge of a ransom being paid, but ships are usually freed only after their owners pay multimillion-dollar ransoms, sometimes dropped in cash from helicopters directly onto ship decks. (...) The U.N. food agency is feeding 3.5 million Somalis this year, about half the country's people. Most food is delivered by sea because flights are too expensive and roads are plagued by bandits.
Forbes / AP
Hunger in the news
21 April 2009

Somali Pirates Release Togo - Flagged Ship

Somali pirates have released a Togo-flagged cargo ship seized last week, a U.N. aid agency said on Monday, but it was unclear whether a ransom was paid for the nearly 5,000-tonne vessel. Sea gangs have made millions of dollars in ransoms by hijacking commercial vessels in busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean shipping lanes, linking Europe to Asia, despite foreign navies patrolling the Somali coast. "We hear from the operator that it was released," said Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP). The MV Sea Horse was on its way to pick up food for the aid group when it was hijacked but it was not under U.N. charter.
New York Times / Reuters
Hunger in the news
21 April 2009

Somalia: Pirates Release Vessel

Somali pirates released a hijacked ship when they learned it was picking up food aid for their hungry countrymen, a Somali clan elder said Monday. The Lebanese-owned ship, the Sea Horse, was hijacked last Tuesday as it headed to India to pick up more than 7,300 tons of food destined for Somalia, the United Nations World Food Program said. The pirates released the ship and were paid “a reward” of $100,000 on Sunday by two Somali businessmen for freeing the aid ship, according to a pirate in Xarardheere, Somalia, who claimed to be part of the gang that captured the ship.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

The economics of feeding 1.3 billion people

Tian Lanying has given up growing wheat. For most of her 60 years, Tian has raised wheat on a small plot of land in Henan province and sold it to the State at a fixed price. This year, she will plant corn and vegetables instead. The reason? "Wheat does not make much money," she said. Tian's decision is a small piece in a very large puzzle for China, as it seeks to provide food for 1.3 billion people using limited natural resources. For the past decade, the nation has produced 95 percent of its own grain, but urbanization, climate change, and smuggling, among other things, make that goal increasingly difficult to achieve.
China Daily
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Mozambique: World Food Programme to buy agricultural products in Nampula

Grain sales in the current agricultural season in Nampula province have been secured following the World Food Programme (WFP) showing interest in buying it, according to a report in newspaper Notícias. The paper added that the United Nations Agency also promised to provide technical and financial assistance to producers after the harvest in building improved warehouses and grain barns, in an effort to ensure the quality of cereals up to their consumption. Over the next few days an WFP mission is expected to arrive in Nampula from its central offices in Italy, to sign a long term agreement with Ykuru, the company that sells agricultural products in the northern province.
Macau Hub
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Canadians pursue pirates on high seas

The Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg helped foil an attack by Somali pirates on a Norwegian oil tanker, and briefly detained seven gunmen after hunting them down under cover of darkness, NATO officials said yesterday. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking from the Summit of the Americas in the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, was quick to congratulate the ship's crew "for the tremendous work they have been doing, the tremendous achievements in the Gulf of Aden." [...] Mr. Harper said Canada has been working for some time off the Horn of Africa, in particular to assist United Nations World Food Programme shipments that are vulnerable to piracy. "We obviously act within our legal authorities and within our capacities, and in this case, as you know, we did briefly detain pirates and disarm them," he said. On Saturday, Dutch commandos freed 20 Yemeni hostages and also briefly detained seven pirates who had forced the Yemenis to sail a "mother ship" attacking vessels in the Gulf of Aden.
National Post (Canada) / Reuters
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Ship fights off attack; Pirates free food aid ship

Somali pirates attacked a Maltese flagged-ship before dawn Monday with rocket-propelled grenades, but the ship escaped unharmed, a NATO spokesman said. And in a rare case of good news, Somali pirates released a Lebanese-owned cargo ship after only a few days after they found out it was headed to pick up food aid for hungry Somalis. [...] U.N. World Food Program spokesman Peter Smerdon said pirates released the Lebanese-owned MV Sea Horse on Friday. He had no more details and it was not known if a ransom was paid. The Togo-flagged ship was hijacked April 14 with 19 crew as it headed to Mumbai, India, to pick up over 7,300 tons of WFP food destined for Somalia. Somali clan elder Abdisalan Khalif Ahmed, speaking to The Associated Press from the Somali pirate haven of Harardhere, said gunmen released the ship after they found out it was supposed to pick up food for their own countrymen. [...] The WFP is feeding 3.5 million Somalis this year, about half the country's people. That requires shipping 43,000 tons of food every month, some 90 percent of which is sent by sea. Flying in food aid is too expensive, and roads in the lawless country are plagued by bandits.
Washington Post / AP
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

'Paid-off' pirates release aid ship

SOMALI pirates have released a Togo-flagged cargo ship seized last week, a UN aid agency said today, and pirate sources said a ransom was paid. Sea gangs have continued to hijack commercial vessels on the strategic Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean earning millions of dollars in ransoms despite the presence of foreign navies off the coast of Somalia. "We hear from the operator that it was released," said Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The MV Sea Horse was on its way to pick up food for the world body when it was hijacked, but it was not under UN charter.
The Australian / Reuters
Hunger in the news
20 April 2009

Aid groups face tough battle against Somali pirates

Millions of people could go hungry as Somali pirates stage increasingly bold attacks on aid ships off the Horn of Africa, the World Food Programme has warned. Experts say there is little aid groups can do to reduce the risk in the short term. But they argue that renewed international attention on Somalia could ease the humanitarian crisis there if it addresses the root causes of why so many young men resort to hijacking ships for a living. [...] "If ships are going to be hit as they are heading to Mombasa, we could see in the coming months millions of people going hungry if food assistance is delayed for extended periods," WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said. [...] This year, the U.N. food aid agency aims to feed 3.5 million people in Kenya, 3.5 million in Somalia and 970,000 in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda, where drought and high food prices have brought widespread hunger. It relies on Mombasa as a key entry point for food supplies for eastern and central Africa. In 2008, more than half a million tonnes of food arrived there on 200 ships. The Maersk Alabama's crew managed to fight off the pirates and sail to Mombasa as planned. Smerdon said the cargo's safe arrival was vital for 315,000 Somali refugees in Kenya whose rations are already being cut because of a shortfall in funding. "You could argue that the most crucial shipping passing off the Somali coast is shipping that is carrying food aid - even if it's destined for Kenya to be repackaged to send to Somalia or other areas," said Roger Middleton, a Somalia expert at London's Chatham House think tank. "I don't think it's particularly more vulnerable than a ship carrying palm oil or spare parts for cars but obviously, if it's hijacked, the consequences for people are more severe."
Reuters Alertnet

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