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
7 March 2009

Sudan's Bashir defies Hague court

Sudan's president defied calls to arrest him for war crimes on Saturday, defending his decision to expel aid groups and dancing in front of crowds wearing traditional feathered head dress. [...] Bashir defended his decision to shut down 13 foreign and three local aid groups over accusations that they passed information to the court's prosecutors. Aid groups deny working with the court. "These humanitarian organizations are just thieves," he said, referring to the aid groups. "They take 99 percent of the money and spend just 1 percent on the ground." [...] U.N. agencies rely on aid groups to deliver much of their food aid and other assistance to people on the ground, so the expulsions will also hit programs run by the World Food Program and other bodies. The expulsions did not affect agencies in southern Sudan.
The Boston Globe / Reuters
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

Sri Lanka to open safe passage for civilians

The Sri Lankan government appealed Friday for tens of thousands of civilians to flee the northern war zone and said it would open two safe passages in the area for the exodus. [...] The United Nations cautiously welcomed the appeal. "Any additional measure to relieve the suffering of civilians is welcome," said U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss. "Let's watch and see if this translates into an effective safe passage for trapped civilians." Aid groups estimate 200,000 civilians are squeezed into an area of less than 19 square miles (50 square kilometers). The government says the number is closer to 70,000.
Washington Post / AP
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

Darfur: fears of crisis if aid agencies leave

Even before Sudan's president expelled aid groups from Darfur following an international warrant seeking his arrest, diarrhea was spreading among newcomers at one of its largest refugee camps and people waited hours in line for water. The picture at the Zamzam Camp grew even bleaker Thursday when no aid workers showed up, leaving residents to figure out how they would get life sustaining goods from sorghum seeds to running water and tents for the influx of new refugees. [...] Catherine Bragg, the U.N.'s deputy emergency relief coordinator, said [aid] organizations [ordered to be expelled] are responsible for "at least half" of the humanitarian operations in Darfur and are vital partners for U.N. agencies in delivering food, providing health care, water, education and other services. "With the loss of these NGOs, 1.1 million people will be without food aid, 1.1 million will be without health care, and over 1 million will be without potable water," she said.
Washington Post / AP
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

WFP: China's commitment not affected by crisis

The UN World Food Program China chief is confident that the financial crisis will not affect China's cooperation with the world's largest humanitarian organization as the Chinese government realizes that it is a long-term relationship. WFP has got export quota from China for WFP's projects in other countries and also hopes China's experience in reducing its own poverty and hunger will help other developing countries, said Ms. Anthea Webb, Director of WFP China, in an interview with People's Daily Online at the opening ceremony of the WFP-China 30-Year Cooperation exhibition on March 3.
People's Daily
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

World Food Programme seeks $5.5 mln for Mozambique

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) in Mozambique is seeking $5.5 million to feed about 100,000 people in the northwestern province of Tete, spokesman Peter Transburg said on Friday. Transburg said the WFP had helped 54,000 of the 97,000 in the region needing food. He added the number of people affected by drought could rise because of low rainfall in the central provinces. "WFP urgently needs $5.5 million to locally purchase roughly 6,000 tonnes of food commodities for assistance programmes across Mozambique in March and April, particularly in the northern province of Tete," he said
Reuters
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

SOMALIA: Merka IDPs virtually out of food

Three months after aid deliveries to the south Somali coastal town of Merka stopped, several thousand displaced people are facing a food and water crisis, sources said. "What little food we had is gone; we have had no help in almost three months," Zeinab Sheikh Hassan told IRIN. "We are in a desperate situation and we need help now." [...] The UN World Food Programme (WFP) halted general distributions in Merka in January because of insecurity – except for some distributions to hospitals and supplementary feeding that has continued. "Our international staff were relocated from Merka at the end of October, but we still have national staff there," WFP spokesman Peter Smerdon said. "We are currently asking all local administrations and armed groups in South and Central Somalia to provide security commitments following the killing of two WFP staff within three days in January." WFP has reached agreements in many areas, but Merka has proved to be one of the more difficult. "We are moving toward a solution and will be able to return to full operations soon," Smerdon added.
Alertnet / IRIN
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

To put justice before peace spells disaster for Sudan

After seven months' deliberation, the judges of the international criminal court finally issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, this week. Their appeal for retributive justice, in the form of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, was solemnly echoed in European and US capitals, and universally by rights organisations and activist groups. Within hours, however, the Sudan government showed that the court and its backers were powerless to defend or feed the millions of Darfurians in whose name justice is being sought. [...] The UN agencies are still there. For the moment. But the World Food Programme relies on two now absent NGOs - Care and Save the Children - to distribute 80% of its rations. Will Khartoum allow the WFP to build a new food distribution infrastructure - a task of many months? Or will it simply insist on doing the job itself? Most likely the latter.
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

Darfur refugees face disaster as Sudan expels NGOs in al-Salaam Camp, North Darfur Bashir drives out 13 agencies in anger at his arrest warrant

Families who fled their homes in the face of government assaults in Darfur face a new emergency. Having fled to the safety of aid camps in search of shelter, food and water, they find the charities that supported them are being locked out by the very regime responsible for much of the region’s slaughter. Aid officials warn that a humanitarian emergency is in danger of becoming a disaster after 13 international non-governmental organisations were expelled by Sudan. [...] Human rights campaigners accused Sudan of holding the people of Darfur hostage. “Millions of lives are at stake and this is no time to play political games,” said Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Africa programme. “These aid agencies provide the bulk of the humanitarian aid required by more than two million vulnerable people.” [...] Doctors and nurses with MSF were trying to contain two deadly outbreaks of meningitis before being expelled. Their clinics have closed. And the supply of food to 1.1 million people is in doubt, as the UN’s World Food Programme scrambles to find trucks to deliver sacks of grain. They had been using four of the expelled charities to get food to people in need.
Irish Times
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

A million face starvation as Sudan shuts down

[...] The Sudanese Government, having bombed more than two million people into camps [in Darfur], is expelling aid workers in retaliation against a world that wants to arrest its President. Aid officials warn that a humanitarian emergency is in danger of becoming a disaster. The move has put the supply of food to 1.1 million people in doubt, as the UN’s World Food Programme scrambles to find lorries to deliver sacks of grain. It had been using four of the expelled charities to get food to people in need.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

Hunger Crisis at the Heart of North Korea's Troubles

Behind the long-range missile it is preparing to launch and the stockpile of plutonium it claims to have "weaponized," North Korea has an embarrassing and insoluble weakness. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, the country cannot feed its people. Perennially dependent on food aid, North Korea has become a truculent ward of the wealthy countries it threatens. [...] Inside North Korea, people with trading savvy can now get plenty to eat. But hunger remains widespread. About 37 percent of the population will require food assistance in the coming year, according to a U.N. food assessment in December, and a World Food Program official said the rate of stunting among children younger than 6 has changed little in the past five years.
Washington Post

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