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
15 April 2009

France Seizes 11 Pirates; U.S. Aid Ship Foils Hijack

The French navy captured 11 pirates off Kenya and a U.S. cargo vessel evaded rocket fire as Somali hijackers followed through on a threat to increase attacks. The pirates were seized after their attempt to hijack the Safmarine Asia, a Liberian-registered cargo ship, was thwarted by a helicopter from the frigate Nivose late yesterday, France’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. [...] Shortly before the attack on the Safmarine Asia, the crew of the U.S.-flagged Liberty Sun, taking food aid to Africa, used evasive maneuvers to foil a hijack attempt by Somali pirates who fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. [...] The ship, which was chartered by the World Food Program, was carrying 27,000 tons of food aid destined for Kenya, Somalia and southern Sudan, Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the United Nations agency, said today in a telephone interview. The cargo, which includes maize meal, corn-soya blend, wheat flour, lentils and yellow peas, is enough to feed 1.6 million people for a month, Smerdon said. [...] [Two other ships were seized yesterday, among them the Sea Horse, a Togolese-flagged cargo ship which was heading for Mumbai, India, to pick up WFP food aid for Somalia.]
Bloomberg
Hunger in the news
15 April 2009

Piracy Leads to Delays in Food Aid to Somalia

A spokesman for the World Food Program, Peter Smerdon, expressed concern that the pirate attacks on food shipment would lead to a delay of needed food relief to Somalia, where drought and civil war has left tens of thousands of people hungry. The cargo ship Maersk-Alabama, freed this week from pirates, is now unloading food in the port of Mombasa, Kenya. But two other ships have been taken or diverted: the Togo-flagged Sea Horse was attacked 700 kilometers from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on its way to pick up 7000 metric tons of maize for the WFP from Mumbai, India. "This is a worrying development for us," said Smerdon: "We are concerned the people in Somalia will go hungry unless the Lebanese-owned Sea Horse is quickly released or a replacement ship can be found. It was due to open a new corridor for the WFP from Mumbai to Somalia to deliver life-saving assistance. So we are alarmed that it was hijacked before it could even do this."
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
15 April 2009

US captain arrives in Kenya after dramatic rescue

The US skipper freed in a dramatic rescue after being held hostage off Somalia for days arrived in Kenya Thursday aboard a warship, while Washington said it wants to freeze pirates' assets. [...] US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan on Wednesday, calling for prosecution and freezing pirates' assets with the support of Washington's international partners. The chief US diplomat added that she was also sending an envoy to an April 23 Somali donors' conference in Brussels to improve the situation in lawless Somalia and help implement the plan. "These pirates are criminals, they are armed gangs on the sea," Clinton told reporters. [...] She said there are "ways to crack down on companies that do business with pirates." The World Food Programme has warned that millions in Africa risk going hungry if pirate hijackings keep aid ships from arriving in Mombasa. While piracy off Somalia has long been a problem for aid freighters, recent hijackings have marked a new development in the attacks, it said in a statement. The attack on the Maersk Alabama "was the first case of a Mombasa-bound ship carrying WFP food being hijacked," the agency said. "If food assistance cannot arrive through Mombasa for Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, southern Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, millions of people will go hungry and the already high malnutrition rates will rise."
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
15 April 2009

WFP to supply more food to Karamoja

The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to increase emergency food supplies to Karamoja so as to mitigate the hunger crisis in the region. The UN food aid agency said over 1,000,000 people in the region would receive 12kg of food each, up from 9kg. The increased supplies will run from this month till November, the agency said. [...] The WFP country director, Stanlake Samkange, also disclosed that they had established three more sub-offices in Kaabong, Nakapiripirit and Abim districts to coordinate the operations.
New Vision
Hunger in the news
14 April 2009

Obama Signals More Active Response to Piracy

President Obama vowed Monday to “halt the rise of piracy” off the coast of Africa following the dramatic rescue of an American merchant captain, foreshadowing a longer and potentially more treacherous struggle ahead as he weighs a series of problematic options. In permitting members of the Navy Seals to shoot the pirates holding the captain, Richard Phillips, Mr. Obama navigated a crisis that played out in full view of the world. But policy makers and experts said the precision killing of three Somali pirates with three bullets would certainly prove easier than wiping out the larger threat in the shipping lanes or reversing the instability that makes Somalia a breeding ground for pirates and Islamic terrorists.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
14 April 2009

Islamic Bank to Aid Cameroon

The Islamic Development Bank, owned by states including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, will spend 8 billion CFA francs ($16 million) improving cereal production and storage in northern Cameroon, said Gourlemond Gilbert, General Manager of the National Cereal Office. [...] About 41 percent of Cameroon’s 16 million people live below the poverty line of $1 per day, according to the World Food Programme.
Bloomberg
Hunger in the news
14 April 2009

Having Scaled Down Food Aid to Zimbabwe, UN Agency Eyes 2009-2010 Season

Though the United Nations World Food Program has scaled down distributions of food aid to Zimbabweans with the arrival of the annual maize harvest, a spokesman for the agency said it anticipates mounting another large-scale feeding operation in the 1009-2010 season. WFP Southern African Spokesman Richard Lee said a survey to assess food availability will be conducted in June, but added that the harvest now beginning has clearly been diminished by widespread shortages of agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizer. He told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the WFP meanwhile is continuing to provide rations to about 600,000 particularly vulnerable people, including those battling HIV/AIDS and households headed by minors.
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
14 April 2009

Salt of this earth

[...] Iraq’s agriculture sector – which currently employs about 40 per cent of working Iraqis with jobs – is in serious trouble. Droughts have rendered much formerly lush land salty and useless. Wheat production has dropped by over 50 per cent. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country is losing five per cent of its farmable land each year, and 2008 was the first year in modern Iraqi history that the country was a net food importer. Oxfam and the World Food Program have noted nationwide malnutrition problems.
Reuters AlertNet / IRIN
14 April 2009

Somalian Pirates of the Gulf

[...] The political and economic situation in Somalia is anything but stable. Since 1991 a civil war has been raging as different warlord factions attempt to take control of the country. What’s more, a number of states within Somalia have self-declared themselves as autonomous, yet not independent. [...] It is no wonder, then, that as many as 1,000 men now run in pirate gangs along the coast. Somalia is situated on the Horn of Africa, making it a prime area to attack passing ships. At first the intent was to deter fishing boats from poaching in Somali waters, but as time progressed it became its own lucrative business. It does, however, threaten the stream of humanitarian aid into the region, with as much as 90% of the World Food Programme’s deliveries are moved via ship, which now require a costly military escort. This rise in cost of transporting the food means that there is less to spend on the food itself.
Politonomist
Hunger in the news
14 April 2009

Why the Somali pirates are winning

[...] Piracy is apparently Somalia's biggest industry – and individual pirates are among the troubled country's wealthiest men. [...] It's hard to quantify pirates' effect on the regional and global economies, but anecdotal evidence abounds. [...] In December, Khalid Shapi, director of a tourism firm in Mombasa, in southern Kenya, warned that cruise ships were beginning to avoid East Africa owing to piracy, rendering jobless thousands of Kenyan tourism workers. Jemma Lembere, a logistics manager for the UN World Food Programme in Mombasa, said that ship owners have been reluctant to take on UN contracts hauling the food aid that feeds half of Somalia's 8 million people. Only with the $10m deployment of a European Union naval force, in December, were ship's crews willing to make the dangerous aid run into Mogadishu.
The Guardian

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