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
20 April 2009

G8 farm ministers look to curb food protectionism

Several farm ministers from the world's most developed nations called on Sunday for an end to protectionism in agriculture, saying the best way to food security lay in better incentives for farmers. Debate at the first meeting of farm ministers from G8 and G5 states has shifted towards options for improving food security and ways to raise output. But food protectionism, as exercised by both rich and poor countries in the form of export bans and import duties, has also been a subject of debate. International organisations such as the World Food Programme have called for self-restraint in curbing exports, criticising export bans imposed by countries hit by rising prices which it says are impeding efforts to get food to the world's neediest.
Euro Investor / Reuters
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

Afghanistan: Shelter, water urgently needed in quake-affected Nangarhar

Hundreds of earthquake-affected people in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, are in urgent need of shelter and drinking water, aid workers and local residents say. More food and better essential health services are also required. [...] Aid agencies have launched needs assessments in order to ensure a coordinated humanitarian response and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) conducted an oversight flight of the area to examine the extent of the damage.
Reuters AlertNet / IRIN
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

Legal challenges to fighting pirates, says rear admiral

Rear Admiral Bob Davidson knows first hand what its like for Canadian sailors pursuing pirates in dangerous waters off Somalia. Speaking Sunday on CTV's Question Period, Davidson -- who last year commanded an international flotilla involved in anti-piracy activities -- said such operations can be frustrating, but that Canadian sailors are "extremely adept" at capturing pirates on the high seas. On Saturday, HMCS Winnipeg helped thwart an attack by Somali pirates on a Norwegian tanker in the Gulf of Aden. Canadian sailors chased down the pirates, boarded their vessel and detained them, before having to release them. [...] Some have suggested NATO forces hunt down the pirates on land. But that -- Davidson insists -- is really not an option. "They're living in their fishing villages with their families. So there would be collateral issues associated with going ashore," he said. "The other issue you've got to remember is that Somalia is a country that is in a terrible state -- famine, the World Food Program supports some 2 million people in the country, there is a war going on in the country, so trying to take action on land is problematic."
CTV
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

NATO Pursues Pirates by Air and Sea

NATO warships and helicopters pursued Somali pirates for seven hours after they attacked a Norwegian tanker, NATO spokesmen said Sunday, and the high-speed chase only ended when warning shots were fired at the pirates' skiff. Seven pirates attempted to attack the Norwegian-flagged MV Front Ardenne late Saturday but fled after crew took evasive maneuvers and alerted warships in the area, said Portuguese Lt. Cmdr. Alexandre Santos Fernandes, aboard a warship in the Gulf of Aden, and Cmdr. Chris Davies, of NATO's maritime headquarters in England. ''How the attack was thwarted is unclear, it appears to have been the actions of the tanker,'' Davies said. Fernandes said no shots were fired at the tanker. Davies said the pirates sailed into the path of the Canadian warship Winnipeg, which was escorting a World Food Program delivery ship through the Gulf of Aden. The American ship USS Halyburton was also in the area and joined the chase.
New York Times / AP
Hunger in the news
19 April 2009

Violence against aid workers in Somalia

Gunmen in central Somalia kidnapped two aid workers believed to be Belgian and Danish on Sunday, a local elder and another relief worker said. Aid workers and journalists have often been kidnapped in the lawless Horn of Africa nation. Earlier this month Somalia ordered all aid agencies working in the country to register with the new government for their own safety. Here are some details of attacks on humanitarian staff: 2008 [...] * Gunmen killed Mohamed Kheire, deputy head of the German charity Bread for the World, on July 11 south of Mogadishu. Gunmen in the capital also killed a Somali man working for ASAL, which works with the U.N. World Food Programme. [...] 2009: * A WFP food monitor was shot dead on Jan. 6 by masked gunmen at a school in the southwestern region of Gedo. * Gunmen killed a WFP staff member on Jan. 8 as the organisation was carrying out food distribution at Daynile.
Reuters Alertnet
Hunger in the news
17 April 2009

Technology in the line of fire

You might not think that training in sniper avoidance or mine detection is particularly suited to your average telecoms engineer. But when natural disasters strike and wipe out communications infrastructure, or when humanitarian crises strike in war-torn areas that may never have had such infrastructure, technology plays a pivotal role that rarely makes it on to the world stage as media coverage begins. It is expertise with information and communications technologies (ICT) that permit aid agencies to communicate with their staff and each other. So, I find myself training with a number of ICT experts and members of the Folgore Parachute Brigade on an Italian military base. [...] The two-week training is part of a three-year programme, organised by the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) and funded with more than $6m (£4m) from the Vodafone Foundation/United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership. [...] Gianluca Bruni, a head at WFP's Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch tells me [camaraderie building among participants] is a side benefit of the course: when they see each other again, putting this training to use in the field, they'll already have a rapport.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
17 April 2009

A human stimulus package should be part of the solution to the financial crisis

Once again, Montreal played host to the Millennium Summit, which took place in the city April 15-16, 2009. Attending the third edition of this international summit were key players in the field of social advocacy representing governments, civil society, academia, and the world's leading humanitarian organizations. Seven years before its target year of 2015, the 2008 Millennium Goals Annual Report highlights some major successes. However, the results for this year have been much less impressive, since the targets for the Summit's first objective – reducing extreme poverty and hunger in the world - may not be reached unless efforts are greatly intensified. Today, more than 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty, and 1 billion do not have access to clean drinking water. [...] Pressenza met with Mr. Henk-Jan Brinkman, the Senior advisor for Economic Policy, United Nations World Food Programme, based in New York. Previously, he was the head of Economic Analysis and Food Security Policy and Markets in the Office of the Executive Director of the World Food Programme in Rome, Italy. [...] Pressenza: At the Forum you talked about the need to feed hungry people now, and that the financial needs of the UN World Food Programme is 6 billion dollars. Is this money available? Henk-Jan Brinkman: We hope we can get those funds very soon. We are funded 100% by voluntary contributions. So we don't have membership fees or other secure contributions – we need to raise every single penny. And we are very short of what we need. So far we have only raised about 15% of those $6-billion.
Pressenza
Hunger in the news
16 April 2009

Zimbabwe crops to fall despite good season

Zimbabwe's maize output is likely to fall 5 percent in 2008/09 despite a good season, the main farmers union said on Thursday, due to a new wave of farm invasions and farmers' inability to afford seed and fertiliser. [...] The slump in farm output has caused widespread food shortages across the country, where the U.N's World Food Programme says about 5.5 million people have needed food aid since the beginning of this year. Thousands of white farmers have fled Zimbabwe since the land seizures began in 2000, and the CFU says the few commercial farmers left cannot produce enough to feed the country.
Euroinvestor
Hunger in the news
16 April 2009

International donors pledge money for Haiti

International donors pledged Tuesday to provide Haiti with $324 million over the next two years, well below the $900 million that the country's prime minister says the government needs over that period. The pledges were announced after representatives from more than 30 donor countries and international organizations gathered to raise money to help the Western Hemisphere's poorest country recover from last year's devastating hurricanes and food riots. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group, a conflict watchdog, last month urged donors to provide the struggling Caribbean country $3 billion over the next few years. The $324 million in pledges include about $41 million in budget support for 2009, according to Pablo Bachelet, a spokesman for the Inter-American Development Bank, which hosted the conference. Bachelet provided no breakdown of donors' pledges.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
16 April 2009

EU boosts anti-piracy flotilla to 11 ships

The European Union says it is boosting its anti-piracy flotilla off the Somali coast to 11 ships. The EU task force was deployed to waters off the Horn of Africa in December in the bloc's first naval operation. Its main task is to escort cargo ships chartered by the World Food Program to deliver food aid to Somalia for at least the next year. [...] The EU said three Swedish frigates will join the flotilla next month.
Forbes / AP

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