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
18 March 2009

NKorea refuses US food amid missile standoff

Chronically hungry North Korea has refused further US food aid, the State Department and aid groups said Thursday, as a showdown mounts over a feared missile test by the communist state. [...] Under a deal reached in June last year, the United States agreed to distribute 500,000 metric tonnes of food to North Korea -- 400,000 through the UN World Food Program and the rest through the NGOs. With the WFP in charge of mass distribution, the NGOs focused on reaching the most vulnerable, including children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. It had brought in 71,000 tonnes and distributed 50,000 so far, Portella said.
Sydney Morning Herald / AFP
Hunger in the news
18 March 2009

North Korea refuses US food aid

The US says North Korea has refused to accept any further food aid supplies. Five aid groups have been told to leave the North by the end of March, the US state department and aid groups said. The UN World Food Programme estimates that almost nine million people - more than a third of the North Korean population - are in need of food aid. [...] Robin Lodge, a spokesman for the programme, said he had yet to hear anything about whether WFP staff would also be affected, but he added that he was very concerned. North Korea is now entering the most critical period of the year for food aid, he said - where stocks from the previous harvest are starting to run out and it is too early for the next harvest. "We're very worried that people could be seriously hungry there," he told the BBC. "We estimate that nearly nine million people are in serious need of food aid."
BBC News
Hunger in the news
18 March 2009

Food aplenty, but not for some Kabul residents

Bobogul, 60, has been finding it hard to get by. Recently widowed and now the head of the household, she has nine people to feed. Her son tries to find work, but casual labour is erratic and the wages haven't kept up with food prices. Bobogul, like thousands of other Kabul residents, is relying on one of the U.N. World Food Programme's recently launched urban food distributions. [...] The scene is familiar enough in rural Afghanistan, where food is often scarce. But this is Kabul. Not far away is a bustling market where stalls overflow with fresh fruit and vegetables, and hunks of meat hanging from butcher's hooks. Nowadays, many people are too poor to afford the food that is available. It's the result of a poor harvest last year and high food prices the world over.
Toronto Star
18 March 2009

U.N. to halt West Africa aid flights

The United Nations will shut down its humanitarian air services in much of West Africa because of a shortage of funds, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Emilia Casella of the World Food Programme (WFP) said the chartered aircraft used to ferry aid workers and supplies to remote parts of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Ivory Coast would stop on Friday, March 20. "In areas that are not reachable by land ... aid workers will not be able to reach vulnerable people with medical care, food, water and sanitation, and other crucial services," she told a news briefing in Geneva. "The U.N. will also not be in a position to carry out timely medical and security evacuations of humanitarian personnel, if and when needed," the spokeswoman said. There are 250 humanitarian agencies now working in the affected West African countries, Casella said. The exact number of people receiving help from the U.N. air service was not known, but thousands of people would be affected, she said.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
18 March 2009

UN set to double Kenya food aid

The World Food Programme (WFP) will now feed 3.5 million people hit by drought and high food prices. Many families are struggling to find food for one meal a day, it said. The Kenyan government declared a national disaster in January following the failure of the short rains in south-eastern and coastal areas. BBC correspondents say last year's political violence has also contributed to food shortages because many displaced people were unable to plant their crops.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
18 March 2009

US, aid groups say NKorea rejected food aid

North Korea has rejected American food shipments and asked aid groups to leave the country by the end of the month, the United States and a leading aid agency said Tuesday, another sign of mounting tension as Pyongyang plans a rocket launch that Washington sees as cover for a long-range missile test. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the North gave no reason for refusing to accept U.S. food aid. [...] The five aid groups working in the North to distribute U.S. food were asked to leave by the end of March, said Joy Portella, spokeswoman for the international aid agency Mercy Corps. Their distribution program had been scheduled to run until June. [...] The United States had been scheduled to provide 400,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea through the U.N. World Food Program, and 100,000 metric tons through the five aid groups, of which Mercy Corps was the lead distributor. [...] A WFP spokeswoman had no comment on the North's decision.
The Boston Globe / AP
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

Climate change warnings become dire

Reports on climate change are like the persistent drip of a leaky faucet getting louder and more frequent. The dire consequences forecast for planet Earth are becoming less a trickle and more a torrent. The global recession is the latest factor to complicate the equation. [...] Increases in food prices around the world hurt everyone, but hit the poorest of the poor the hardest, forcing them to spend a larger proportion of their meager income on food. That translates into either less food or less nutritious food, says the World Food Program of the United Nations, or even forcing them to seek outside help to meet nutritional needs. The more prosperous in the world spend perhaps 10-20 percent of their income for food, the Rome-based agency says. But the least well-off spend 60-80 percent of their income for food. Countries most affected in the food crisis are those importing large quantities and where inflation already is high, and those that already suffer food insecurity and have large urban populations.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

“Helping people to help themselves and their families contributes to lasting peace in the continent” WFP

Ambassador Sheila Sisulu is the Deputy Director of World Food Program. Before joining the WFP she was the Ambassador of South Africa to Washington and before that she worked for the state of South Africa in Education. The last sixteen years she is working in the area of food security in WFP. Walta Information Center has got an opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with her while she was visiting Ethiopia recently. Q: Could you brief our audience the major objectives of WFP? A: We work globally but we implement our programs locally.
Walta Information Center
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

UN to close West Africa air service in funding shortage

The United Nations emergency air service, used to move food, medical assistance and aid workers to remote and dangerous locations, will have to shut its West Africa operation due to a lack of funds, the organisation announced on Tuesday. The air service, run by the World Food Programme, is used to get aid and staff to areas that cannot be reached by land, whether owing to security concerns, lack of infrastructure or rough terrain. [...] Donors, said UN officials, sometimes neglected certain countries in favour of others which are in the headlines and have more political significance. The air programme, dependant on donor contributions, was "running on fumes", Emilia Casella, a WFP spokeswoman told reporters in Geneva. In 2008, when the air service lacked about 30 million dollars in funding, the programme carried more than 360,000 humanitarian passengers and 15,000 metric tons of cargo in 16 countries, using 58 chartered aircraft, the UN said.
Earth Times / Deutsche Presse Agentur
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

Camps in Darfur struggle with aid groups' exit

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.
Los Angeles Times

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