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
11 March 2009

UN says paralysed in Sudan without aid partners

The United Nations relies so heavily on outside groups to deliver aid in Darfur that Sudan's expulsion of 16 non-governmental organisations has paralysed as much as half of its programmes, officials said on Tuesday. While the World Food Programme, World Health Organisation and UNICEF were not among those ordered out after a Hague court issued a war crimes warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the U.N. agencies lost a lot of manpower when their aid partners were shut down last week. [...] Four of the shuttered NGOs -- CARE International, Save the Children U.S., Action Contre La Faim and Solidarites -- had distributed a third of the World Food Programme's aid in Darfur, regularly reaching 1.1 million people in 130 locations. "The WFP and other humanitarian agencies do not have the capacity to fill such a large gap," spokeswoman Emilia Casella told reporters. "Unless NGOs can operate normally, people will go hungry, thirsty, and growing numbers of sick and malnourished will go untreated."
Reuters
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

Downturn will 'set back Millennium Goals'

The world's progress towards the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be pushed back by at least three years by the "financial tsunami" sweeping across the world, Douglas Alexander, international development secretary, warns today. Reflecting growing global concern that the world's poorest countries will suffer the most from the recession, Alexander will also unveil research from the Department for International Development (DfID) predicting that another 90 million people will be pushed into poverty by the end of next year. Alexander is holding a conference in London today on the impact of the global economic downturn on poor countries and efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It will be attended by officials from global financial institutions as well as Bob Geldof and Lord Stern, author of the eponymous review on climate change.
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

Virtual and Emergency Food Reserves Needed

[...] To prevent a repeat of the 2007-2008 international food price crisis, the G-8, along with a handful of other countries, should band together to form two food reserves, one real and one virtual.
US News and World Report
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

WFP Scaling back Food Aid Program in NK

The World Food Program (WFP) says it is decreasing its number of international monitoring staff and closing down field offices in North Korea after failing to receive food aid from the U.S. According to the Voice of America Tuesday, the U.N. food agency must scale back its humanitarian food assistance program in the North after several months of funding shortfalls. The agency is currently operating a mere 15 percent of its planned operations. The WFP has received contributions of 22-point-seven million U.S. dollars, or about four-and-a-half percent of the 500 million dollar budget, for its planned emergency operations.
KBS
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

From recipient to donor: WFP photo show marks 30-year cooperation with China

"I am deeply touched," exclaimed Liang Ni, a white-collar employee of a foreign company, as she stood at the China World Trade Center here Tuesday. She was viewing a photo exhibit hosted by the UN World Food Program (WFP) with the theme "Defeat Hunger, Fight Poverty" to commemorate its cooperation with the Chinese government over the past 30 years. "If only I could bring my child here," she said, pointing to a picture of Drew Barrymore, WFP Ambassador against Hunger, distributing food to starving children in Kenya. Liang said her 3-year-old daughter was a little picky about her meals. Photos like those on show would teach the young girl to appreciate food, she said. The photo that moved Liang was one of more than 100 in three sections. One depicts the WFP's efforts to help China combat poverty and hunger from 1979 to 2005. The second shows Chinese assistance to other countries through the WFP since 2006, while the third portrays renowned Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who witnessed how the Chinese aid was delivered in the Kingdom of Lesotho in Africa last December.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

Zambia: Food Vouchers Not Enough to Fight Hunger

In an attempt to mitigate rising food insecurity and malnutrition, the Zambian government and the World Food Programme (WFP) have started to hand out food vouchers to the country’s urban poor. The programme was launched in February after agricultural experts forecast a shortfall in this year’s maize yields, Zambia’s staple food. [...] Civil society groups are concerned, however, that the food voucher programme is merely an emergency intervention that will fail to bring long-term, sustainable change to the country’s capacity to feed its population of twelve million. Instead, they ask for direct, financial support of Zambia’s one million small-scale farmers to increase local food production.
Inter Press Service (IPS)
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

China: UN should consult Sudan as groups expelled

China urged the United Nations on Tuesday to consult with the Sudanese government to stem a humanitarian crisis after the African nation expelled 13 aid groups that were helping millions in the conflict-wracked Darfur region. Sudan kicked out more than half of the aid workers in Darfur after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Khartoum accused the aid groups of cooperating with the Netherlands-based ICC. The World Food Program says some 1.1 million of the 2-3 million people it feeds in Sudan each month are dependent on deliveries from the groups that have been expelled
International Herald Tribune / AP
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

UN tries to fill gaps left by Darfur aid expulsion

U.N. agencies and other organizations allowed to remain in Darfur don't have the resources to fully replace the activities of 13 expelled aid groups who were helping millions in the conflict-wracked region, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief said. The United Nations will try to fill life-threatening gaps left by Sudan's expulsion of more than half the aid workers from Darfur, John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said Monday. [...] Assets of international NGOs have been confiscated including vehicles and computers, vital data for assistance to beneficiaries and food and non-food items, he said. There also have been cases of intimidation by some Sudanese officials toward NGO staff facing expulsion, he said. Holmes said one or two warehouses containing food from the U.N. World Food Program which was going to be distributed by NGOs were also quickly seized by local Sudanese authorities. "We have been assured that these assets will be returned to us quickly," he said.
International Herald Tribune / AP
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

Bill Clinton, UN chief seek aid for Haiti

Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are trying to refocus international attention on Haiti with a visit Monday they hope will lure more aid to keep the impoverished country from sliding back into chaos. The former U.S. president and the U.N. chief toured the run-down capital and were meeting with Haitian officials who have been struggling with high food prices and a devastating series of storms during a period of relative political calm in the Caribbean country. [...] The delegation that includes Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean stopped at a school in the capital's rough Cite Soleil neighborhood, once the site of violent clashes between gangs and U.N. peacekeepers, to view a food program for children. Clinton said he was pleased to see efforts such as the program, run by Jean's charity, Yele Haiti, and U.N. World Food Program.
Forbes / AP
Hunger in the news
10 March 2009

Madagascar: Army threatens to intervene

Ahead of a planned three-day National Consultative Conference to resolve Madagascar’s deep political turmoil, the country’s senior military commander warned on 10 March that the army will step in and impose order if a solution is not found within 72 hours. [...] As looting on the streets of Antananarivo continues and the security situation deteriorates, NGO’s are preparing themselves for a potential humanitarian crisis. The United Nations World Food Programme has expanded food distribution operations in the country. “There is a greater demand for nutritional aid since the crisis began,” Krystyna Bednarska, head of the WFP in Madagascar told IRIN. “The problems mean that people can’t work. Many have lost their jobs and it is the most vulnerable people that are being affected.”
IRIN News

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