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
12 March 2009

Sudan: Other NGOs Ready to Move Into Darfur - Official

Several relief organisations from Arab and Asian countries have applied to work in the western Sudanese Darfur region to replace agencies expelled or stopped from working there, a senior official said. "We have received many applications from Arab and Asian countries," Sudanese State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, said. "They want to go to Darfur." The applicants include the Red Crescent Societies of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Several doctors and medical supplies were also being sent to Darfur. [...] The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it had lost 35 percent of its food distribution capacity through the expulsion of four of its implementing partners - Save the Children USA, Action Against Hunger, Solidarités and Care International. "WFP does not have the capacity to fill this gap," said spokeswoman Emilia Casella. "Unless the NGOs are allowed to resume their activities, people are going to go hungry."
All Africa / IRIN
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

Aid workers kidnapped in Darfur

Three aid workers from the Belgian office of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have been kidnapped in Sudan's North Darfur region, the medical organisation has said. A Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French co-ordinator were among five staff members seized on Wednesday night by a group of armed men in Saraf Umra, MSF said on Thursday. [...] The attack on the Belgian MSF branch comes days after the French and Dutch contingents of the aid organisation were kicked out of Darfur. They were among 13 aid groups order to leave Sudan after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, for alleged war crimes in Darfur. [...] The World Food Programme (WFP) says its four of its partner relief agencies expelled from Darfur were looking after 35 per cent of food distribution to the region.
Al Jazeera
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

World hunger, the crisis inside the economic crisis

The economic crisis has now spread from Wall Street to Main Street to the places where there are no streets. In slums and shacks around the world, hunger is gnawing again as job opportunities shrink but food prices do not. Global cereal prices are 71% higher than they were in 2005, according to the International Monetary Fund, but the wages of many workers are falling. [...] Last year, skyrocketing food prices sparked violent protests in 30 countries and scared many more into making generous donations. The United States doubled its contribution to the U.N. World Food Program. Saudi Arabia handed over a check for $500 million. All told, the world kicked in an extra $2.3 billion. As a result, the U.N. program was able to add 30 million people to the rolls of those being fed, and disaster was averted. [...] The World Food Program says it will need $6 billion this year, $1 billion more than in 2008. So far, it's only raised 10% of that. Of course, it will take vastly more -- and more than money -- to fix the long-term problems that create hunger: under-investment in agriculture and food infrastructure, particularly in Africa; urban development on farmland; and climate change, which will make all of the problems worse.
Los Angeles Times
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

Compounding the crime

Given the history of the Sudanese government’s brutal treatment of the population of Darfur, some adverse reaction to last week’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was expected—but nothing quite as bad as what happened. A dozen major international aid agencies and a couple of local ones were immediately expelled from Darfur, and many from the country altogether. [...] By some estimates, the NGOs that have been kicked out contributed 80% of the workers who distributed the World Food Programme’s aid in Darfur—the people, that is, who actually gave the food to the refugees in the camps.
The Economist
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

Expulsions plunge Sudan relief efforts into chaos

A week after Sudan kicked out 13 major foreign aid agencies, the world's biggest humanitarian relief effort has been plunged into chaos as organisations negotiate a nightmare of red tape and intimidation, aid workers say. The expelled agencies now have to find ways to reallocate tens of millions of dollars budgeted for projects they can no longer run, while those organisations allowed to remain in Sudan say they face a momentous struggle to fill the gaps. Aid workers say the Sudanese authorities have seized computers, vehicles, medical records and life-saving drugs, meaning they cannot hand them over to relief groups still on the ground. Some agencies say they have had funds frozen as well. [...] Relief groups fear the expulsions could create a new humanitarian disaster in Sudan. In Darfur alone some 4.7 million people rely on aid. The agencies' departure will leave 1.1 million people there without food, 1.5 million without medical care and more than 1 million without drinking water, the United Nations says. "The very life bridge to the people of Darfur is threatened now ... so this creates a new kind of hell for the people of Darfur," U.N. World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran told AlertNet.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

Next machetes, then machineguns?

The recent shooting of two prominent Kenyan human-rights campaigners in broad daylight in Nairobi, the country’s capital, has darkened the national mood just when Kenya’s fragile coalition government is showing signs of stress and the global recession is beginning to batter the economy anew. [...] The rising cost of food, soaring unemployment and the grimness of life in the huge slums abutting central Nairobi may open up space for a potent new movement that could cut across ethnic lines. “A thousand death squads won’t deal with all these angry young men,” says a local observer. [...] Some 4m Kenyans now rely on food aid. The number in absolute poverty is up. So is unemployment.
The Economist
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

Pack the food or your child will be dense, parents told

A Primary Seven candidate, 15-year-old Ocitti Walter Obote starts moving from home in Amuru IDP camp at 6a.m. to be able to get to Amuru Reckiekech Primary School, several miles away, at 8a.m. Yet at 1p.m., he has to find his way back home for lunch because the school doesn’t provide a meal for the pupils. He usually borrows a bicycle from his friends at school to ride home. However, on days when he can’t get a bike, he goes hungry the whole day. A unique initiative championed by the World Food Programme (WFP) aims to end Ocitti’s misery. Indeed his single mother, Milly Aol, is one of the parents that signed a commitment form to send their children to school with lunch daily. But the onus is still on the parent to provide the food. All that WFP is providing is sensitisation and a food container. [...] WFP, which had been providing lunch daily to some 380,000 pupils in northern Uganda since 2001, discontinued the programme last year –limiting it to only Karamoja. In a brief interview with The Weekly Observer, Stanlake J.T.M. Samkange, the WFP Representative and Country Director, explained that the UN agency may have changed strategy but would not abandon the communities it has been supporting. “In close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports, we are devising sustainable ways in which to help parents and guardians feed children in school in line with stated government policies, and as a safety net for vulnerable children,” he said.
The Weekly Observer (Uganda)
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

Qatar fund to target food and energy

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund will turn its focus to commodities, particularly food and energy, in the second half of the year, a senior official said on Thursday. Hussein al-Abdullah, executive director of the Qatar Investment Authority, which is estimated to have assets of about $60bn (€46.6bn, £43.1bn), said the fund would do “nothing” until the beginning of the second half of the year, when it will review its strategy. [...] The focus on food comes as Middle East nations, ­particularly Saudi Arabia, race to secure their agricultural supplies by investing in overseas farmland in response to last year’s food crisis. Agricultural commodities prices increased in 2008 to record highs and, after falling in recent months, remain well above the 2006 pre-boom level.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

United Nations: Yemen one of the most Food-insecure Countries

High prices last year aggravated food insecurity among poor households, which were already suffering severe food insecurity, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). World Food Program (WFP) representative in Yemen Giancarlo Cirri was citied as saying Yemen is one of the most food-insecure countries globally and the most food-insecure in the Middle East. [...] “High food prices have affected the entire country. But certain areas which are poorer than others were most affected. These include the governorates of Saada, Amran, Hajjah, Hudeidah, Lahj, Al-Jawf, Al-Baidha, and Hadramaut,” said Cirri.
Yemen Post
Hunger in the news
12 March 2009

WFP Phases Out Food Aid to IDPs

The World Food Programme (WFP) has stopped food aid to about 214,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda. Since January, the programme phased out food aid for about 66,000 IDPs in Pader district, more than 58,000 others in Amuru district, about 60,000 in Kitgum and another 27,000 in Gulu district," the country director, Stanlake Samkange, said. He said the move was taken after consultation with humanitarian partners and district leaders.
All Africa / New Vision

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