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
17 March 2009

U.N. aid workers freed after kidnap in Somalia

Four U.N. humanitarian workers kidnapped on Monday by gunmen in southern Somalia have been freed, hardline Islamist insurgents and the United Nations said. "I can confirm to you that all four aid workers were released from militia who abducted them in Wajid this morning -- unconditionally after a joint effort," al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Muktar Robow Mansoor told Reuters. The United Nations said a small, independently operating group had seized a Somali national working in Wajid and three foreign staff members en route to Kenya from the semi-autonomous northern Somali region of Puntland. [...] Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for aid workers, who have been the targets of assassinations and kidnappings during a two-year insurgency led by Islamist insurgents against the government and foreign backers. The U.N.'s World Food Program has continued to deliver food aid in areas of Somalia controlled by al Shabaab, which is on Washington's list of foreign terrorist groups.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
17 March 2009

UN Forced to Cut Off Humanitarian Air Service to West Africa

The World Food Program warns the United Nations will be forced to close its West African Humanitarian Air Service on Friday because it has run out of money. WFP says the service flies UN and private aid agency humanitarian workers, journalists and others to some of the hardest-to-reach emergency operations in the world. The World Food Program says aid operations in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast will be seriously affected if the UN Humanitarian Air Service shuts down. In addition to these operations, WFP says programs in Chad, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia also are threatened with closure. [...] "What this really means is that aid agencies will not be able to get to the people who need help," said WFP Spokeswoman Emilia Casella. "It also means that the U.N. will not be in a position to do urgent medical and security evacuations in a timely manner in some of these areas."
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
16 March 2009

Fighting hunger

The ongoing "Defeat Hunger, Fight Poverty" photo exhibition, at the China World Trade Center in Beijing, looks back on 30 years of cooperation between the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Chinese government to eradicate hunger and poverty in China and other developing countries.
China Daily
Hunger in the news
16 March 2009

Gunmen kidnap four aid workers in south Somalia

Gunmen kidnapped four aid workers in southern Somalia on Monday, including one believed to be foreign, a humanitarian source said. "The aid workers were in transit in Wajid, where they spent the night on the way from Puntland. They were taken early on Monday morning," a U.N. worker, who declined to be named, told Reuters, adding that some worked for the U.N. World Food Programme.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
16 March 2009

Christian Science Monitor

The kidnapping of three Western aid workers in Sudan's Darfur region marks a significant escalation of insecurity for relief agencies deployed in the conflict-ridden area. Canadian nurse Laura Archer, Italian doctor Mauro D'Ascanio, and French coordinator Raphaël Meunier, as well as their Sudanese watchman Sharif Mohamadin, all working for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, were safely released Saturday by unknown gunmen after three days in captivity. A rebel leader and analysts say the kidnapping and recent expulsion of 13 aid groups are part of a government strategy to scare away remaining aid workers and break up camps housing Sudanese civilians who have fled the war.
Christian Science Monitor
Hunger in the news
16 March 2009

First North Korean pizzeria opens

North Korea's first pizzeria has opened in the capital Pyongyang, according to a Japan-based newspaper. Chefs were sent to Italy for training by leader Kim Jong-il, who said North Koreans should be able to try the world's best foods, said Choson Sinbo. Most people in the secretive communist state live on an income of about $1,800 (£1,265) a year, but a wealthy elite can afford a more luxurious lifestyle. [...] North Korea is among the world's poorest countries, relying on international food aid to feed its people. According to the World Food Programme, up to nine million North Koreans were facing urgent food shortages this winter.
BBC News
16 March 2009

Gaddi Vasquez: Diplomat for Desperate, Poor

Many U.N. member states have ambassadors who work with its relief agencies. But Vasquez is the rare ambassador who goes to where the aid is being given. "There is no substitute, in my view, for traveling to these countries, holding these babies, looking into the eyes of these people, sensing their pain and hurt and knowing that you just might be able to make a difference." During his three years as U.S. ambassador, Vasquez traveled to 10 countries. He wanted to put global poverty in the headlines and check up on the relief agencies. One of those agencies is the World Food Programme, the world's largest humanitarian organization. The United States donates more money to it than any other country, and Vasquez wanted to make sure it was well spent. Josette Sheeran, WFP's executive director, says she appreciated his feedback and his recognition of those working in the field.
Voice of America
Hunger in the news
16 March 2009

Peace hopes fade in Philippine south

The BBC's Jill McGivering looks at prospects for peace in Mindanao, where fighting between Philippine troops and separatist rebels is causing a humanitarian crisis.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
16 March 2009

WFP wants safe passage in Tarai for food aid

The UN food agency World Food Program has urged agitating groups in the Tarai to allow free movement of vehicles transporting humanitarian foods supplies. WFP said it has been unable to deliver food assistance to more than 325,000 highly food-insecure people across Nepal, including Koshi flood victims and the Bhutanese refugees, due to disruption in transportation for the last two weeks. “The WFP will be organizing convoys of humanitarian food assistance. These trucks will be moving along multiple sections of the East-West Highway and toward Birendranagar in Surkhet,” said UN agency in a statement Friday.
Republica (Nepal)
Hunger in the news
15 March 2009

Interview: Priscila de Molina of the World Food Programme in Guatemala

In Latin America, the country of Guatemala suffers high child malnutrition rates. Jennifer Mizgata, a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) officer in Washington DC, visited Guatemala and saw first-hand the suffering of children. Mizgata, in an account of her visit published in the Baltimore Sun, wrote: "Henri is just 11, but already his prematurely wizened face is that of a grown-up - a casualty of a daily job breaking rocks in the sun. By contrast, his small body resembles that of the average American 8-year-old..... Yet thanks to an alternative school program and his own determination, Henri is able to study in the afternoon. In fact, he is the best math student in his class. ... Henri is kept out of traditional school by marginal school fees and his need to work to survive. While investing in education is critical, Guatemalans must first be able to eat. Without food, Henri and his peers can't focus on their education." School feeding is desperately needed in Gautemala. Priscila De Molina is a WFP program assistant in Guatemala and she recently discussed the details of school feeding in the country.
BlogCritics Magazine

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