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

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
Hunger in the news
11 March 2009

KC wants to follow Jolie, Barrymore's example

KC Concepcion said she is planning to either write a book tackling her work as a national ambassador against hunger for United Nations-World Food Programme (UN-WFP) or blog about her experience. Concepcion said she wants to follow the example of Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore. [...] Concepcion also disclosed that she might see Barrymore in Rome, Italy on March 27 when she meets with the UN-WFP executives.
ABS-CBN News
Hunger in the news
11 March 2009

Farm production grinds to a halt as farm invasions continue

Production at the handful of functioning farms remaining in Zimbabwe has ground to a halt, with ongoing farm invasions and threats of evictions forcing farmers to abandon their crops. A fresh wave of farm invasions have seen more than 80 farms seized since last month and has left more than 100 farmers facing possible prosecution. [...] Zimbabweans are battling a crippling countrywide food shortage that has left more than seventy percent of the population in critical need of international food aid. The UN’s World Food Programme has in turn been forced to cut its aid rations to cater for the overwhelming number of starving people in Zimbabwe – a country that was once regarded as the breadbasket of Africa.
The Zimbabwean / SWRadio Africa
Hunger in the news
11 March 2009

Britain increases hunger fighting funding in Kenya

The British government has announced 5.5 million pounds (about 7.5 million U.S. dollars) from its development agency, DFID, to fight starvation in Kenya. A statement from the British High Commission in Kenya said visiting British Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander said the funds will be channeled through the World Food Program (WFP). During his visit to Nairobi's Mathare slums on Wednesday, Alexander outlined the Britain's commitment to addressing the most urgent humanitarian needs in Kenya. He noted that the new funding to WFP will ensure that those Kenyans most in need are targeted.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
11 March 2009

Opaque defender of tyranny

[...] In response to the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant which was issued against Bashir on Wednesday, the minister of foreign affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, reiterated the South African position: “We don’t condone impugnity but South Africa supported the decision of the African Union to defer the issuing of the warrant of arrest against President Al-Bashir by a year to give the peace processes in the Sudan a chance. [...] It follows that South Africa is unlikely to worry too much about the fact that in response to the arrest warrant Bashir promptly expelled aid groups on which more than one million refugees in Darfuri camps depend directly for their basic livelihood. The head of the UN World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, said: “This is a whole new kind of hell for the people of Darfur . With the loss of these NGOs, 1.1 million people will be without food aid, 1.1 million will be without healthcare, and over one million will be without potable water.” Bashir’s strategy seems obvious. If the humanitarian crisis escalates enough then the UN security council might force the year’s delay in court proceedings he and the African Union are gunning for.
The Times (South Africa)

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