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

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
Hunger in the news
14 April 2009

Win-win situation for farmers, aid group

"Now that I have a secure buyer, I will grow a lot more beans," says one farmer who is benefiting from the World Food Programme's innovative Purchase for Progress (P4P) program. Alfredo Muarapaz did not expect the windfall he received a few months ago. But he made good use of it. "I used the money to buy school things for my children, dishes and clothes for my family and even some tools to improve my house," said Muarapaz, a poor, semi-subsistence farmer, who pocketed around $50 (all figures U.S.) from the sale of his small chickpea surplus to the World Food Programme (WFP). It may not sound like much, but Muarapaz lives in Mozambique – a country where over a third of the population survives on less than one dollar per day. And it is certainly enough of an incentive for him to grow a larger surplus next year. "I will plant two hectares and hope to grow 800 kilograms of beans," said Muarapaz, who sold just 150 kilograms this year. "I have not grown many beans until now because I didn't have a buyer, but now that there is a secure buyer, I will produce a lot more." This optimistic production plan is exactly the response that WFP is hoping to foster among smallholder farmers with Purchase for Progress. By providing a reliable market for smallholder farmers, local cooperatives and small traders, WFP is hoping to put more money into the pockets of poorer farmers and to provide them with a powerful incentive to invest and increase production. The idea is that with more produce to sell and more experience as market players, the farmers will connect to other clients besides WFP.
Toronto Star Online
Hunger in the news
13 April 2009

Snipers kill three Somali pirates in captain rescue

US Navy snipers have dramatically ended a high-seas standoff with Somali pirates, rescuing a US captain held hostage on a lifeboat for five days, killing three of his four captors. [...] Phillips had been held aboard the lifeboat since the pirates attacked his cargo ship, the US-flagged Maersk Alabama, on Wednesday. The unarmed American crew managed to regain control of the ship, but the pirates captured Phillips and bundled him into the lifeboat as they escaped. The 20-crew ship had been bound for Mombasa, Kenya, carrying provisions for the UN World Food Program, including 4097 tonnes of soya and maize and 990 tonnes of cooking oil for vulnerable populations in Somalia, Uganda and Kenya. It docked safely in the port Saturday and its crew remain onboard while the FBI investigates Wednesday's attack.
The Australian / AFP

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