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

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
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

Donors’ food aid cut

The volume of direct food aid by the donor countries to Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme has declined considerably recent times because of their waning interest and confidence in this particular project. In a recent letter to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) World Food Programme (WFP) said that though WFP has intensified its efforts with donors to continue its support to the VGD programme it might not be feasible to continue donors contribution in coming months. The waning of donors interest and confidence in this programme has been cited as the reason for the cut in the food aid. The donor countries have instead expressed interest in enhancing support to Food for Education (FFD) Programmes in the country.
The New Nation (Bangladesh)
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

Heavy fighting in north Sri Lanka

Intense fighting is going on between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in north-eastern Sri Lanka. The military says at least 36 rebels have been killed in ferocious battles in Mullaitivu district on Monday. Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says another ship with food items for civilians has reached the conflict zone. [...] "The ship arrived off the coast of Putumatalan in the north-east this morning (Tuesday) and has started to offload its supplies. It will take several days to finish the work," ICRC spokeswoman Sophie Romanens said. The World Food Programme, which has sent most of the food along with some government supplies, says 500 metric tonnes of food will be sufficient for a 100,000 people for about 10 days.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

North Korean Premier Lauds China as Regional Bulwark

North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il praised China as a regional bulwark before arriving for a visit on Tuesday that underscores Beijing's go-softly approach to Pyongyang's missile launch plans that have alarmed the region. Kim is not related to the North's supreme leader, Kim Jong-il, and wields little military power, but his five-day trip signals China's desire to woo North Korea as other powers warn against its plan to fire a rocket between April 4 to 8. [...] North Korea has also ordered international food aid workers to leave the country this month over a dispute with the United States, the Financial Times reported. Pyongyang had told Washington that U.N. World Food Program (WFP) staff will be barred from distributing food aid after March. The WFP said earlier this month it had scaled back its food aid in North Korea after several months of funding shortfalls, adding that operations were at 15 percent of planned levels.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

North Korean Human Rights ‘Dire and Desperate,’ UN Envoy Says

North Koreans are facing “dire and desperate” human rights conditions under a regime that is bent on personal survival, a United Nations envoy to the country said. “The overall picture of human rights implementation in the country was grim,” the UN said, citing a report by Vitit Muntarbhorn presented yesterday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. [...] The North Korean regime has used food grants as a means of control over the people, Muntarbhorn said. The policy failed in the 1990s when the country suffered famine caused by floods, drought and economic mismanagement. As many as 8.7 million people need food aid in the country, the envoy said. North Korea’s food shortage this year is estimated to reach 1.17 million metric tons, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said last month. The UN World Food Programme said in a Dec. 8 report that North Korea is facing a shortfall of more than 800,000 tons of grain for the year through October 2009.
Bloomberg

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