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
6 March 2009

Financial crisis to deepen extreme poverty

The global financial crisis sweeping through Wall Street and the European banking sector will touch the lives of the world’s most vulnerable, pushing millions into deeper poverty and leading to the deaths of thousands of children, according to a new United Nations study. Reduced growth in 2009 will cost the 390 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living in extreme poverty around $18 billion, or $46 per person, warned the report by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “This projected loss represents 20 per cent of the per capita income of Africa’s poor – a figure that dwarfs the losses sustained in the developed world,” UNESCO stressed in a press release.
UN News Centre
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

China: 20% extra into agricultural production

China will increase spending on agricultural production by 20% this year amid warnings that climate change could spark a future food crisis . Prime minister Wen Jiabao's announcement of an extra 121 billion yuan (£13bn) to boost farm yields and raise rural incomes was a central part of his annual budget speech at the Great Hall of the People. [...] Many Chinese people can remember the famines of the early 1960s which killed tens of millions of people. More recently, improved farming policies and technologies have given China a high level of self-sufficiency and growth. But the country's top economic planning body warned that this would be hard to maintain.
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

Many dead in Sri Lanka, says UN

The UN says that it estimates that thousands of civilians have been killed and wounded in the conflict in the north-east of Sri Lanka. The UN's US-based Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says civilians continue to lose their lives within the war zone. [...] "The world body has no verifiable numbers due to lack of access for relief workers, but estimates that thousands have been killed and wounded," the UN News Centre said. "The (government-designated) no-fire zone is believed to be very squalid and overcrowded and the UN has received information that people are dying from lack of food.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

Recession compounds world food crisis

The global economic downturn has compounded the food crisis, pushing more people over the brink of hunger and threatening stability around the world, the head of the United Nations' food relief agency said Tuesday. Food supplies are tight and expensive, and more people in poor countries are unable to afford what they need because of the recession, said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme. "I think the world would like to focus on one crisis at a time, but we really can't afford to," Sheeran told Reuters after a speech to a think-tank and aid groups. "These are not separate crises. The food crisis and the financial (crisis) are linking and compounding," she said, noting lack of food often leads to political instability.
Forbes / Reuters
Hunger in the news
6 March 2009

UN to see if Sudan's aid group ban is war crime

The U.N. human rights office will examine whether Sudan's decision to expel aid groups constitutes a breach of basic human rights and possibly a war crime, a spokesman said Friday. Rupert Colville said the Sudanese decision to expel relief workers from 13 of the largest aid groups constitutes a "grievous dereliction" of duty, putting the lives of thousands at risk. The World Food Program says some 1.1 million of the 2-3 million people it feeds each month are dependent on deliveries from the groups that have been expelled. [...] A senior foreign ministry official in Khartoum, Mutrif Siddique [...] claimed that major U.N. aid agencies were not affected by this expulsion decision and stressed that "hundreds of Sudanese NGO workers remain and work in Darfur." The World Food Program questioned whether the remaining aid groups would be able to fill the gap. "We simply don't have the capacity to carry out the life saving work of the NGOs," said the agency's spokeswoman in Geneva, Emilia Casella.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

Winds of change in US food aid policy?

A shift towards a mixed system of procuring food aid, with purchases in the US and in the beneficiary country, is the way to go for future policy, says Andrew Natsios, a former senior US aid official, and a group of US-based NGOs and lobby groups for UN agencies. The US is the world largest donor of food and the only developed country yet to break the link between foreign food aid and supporting its own farmers, but US NGOs say sentiment is moving in favour of reforming US food aid policy, with the focus shifting towards buying food aid in the beneficiary country rather than shipping it from the US. [...] A Roadmap to end Global Hunger, with a flexible approach to aid that would allow the use of cash transfers, vouchers, and a mix of local and US food purchases has the backing of the Friends of the World Food Programme and the US Fund for UNICEF (UN Children's Fund), both US-based lobby groups.
Alertnet / IRIN
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

Sudan expels aid groups after arrest warrant

Sudan ordered at least 10 humanitarian groups expelled from Darfur on Wednesday after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the country's president. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the action "represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur" and urged Sudan to reverse its decision, U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. Aid groups protested, saying they had no connection to the court and that their absence could lead to a crisis for for more than 2 million of war-weary Sudanese who need such basics as shelter, food and clean water. [...] The non-governmental aid groups ordered out were Oxfam, CARE, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Norweigan Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Action Contre la Faim, Solidarites and CHF International. The Sudan Media Center said two Sudanese organizations, the Khartoum Centre for Human Rights and Environmental Development and the Khartoum Amal Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence, were also expelled, saying they cooperated with the court.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

Afghanistan: Tempted by a Taliban job offer

A 25-year-old man we will call Shakir has told IRIN he rues rejecting an offer of “work” from a Taliban agent whereby he would get 500 Afghanis (about US$10) a day for carrying out attacks on government offices in Farah Province, southwestern Afghanistan. Those who accepted the offer are better off, he thinks. “People are jobless, hungry and destitute so they agree to do anything for a small payment,” he told IRIN, refusing to give his name for fear the insurgents would kill him. The Farah ring-road linking southern and western provinces is risky for relief convoys. Dozens of food aid trucks hired by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) were attacked there in 2008, and Farah Province is seen as a hotbed of insurgency
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

Quest for food security breeds neo-colonialists

The black comedy of the banks has persuaded us to forget about food security. Food price inflation gripped the markets early last year and has surged again at the beginning of this year. For most of the world food continues to be a worry. The cost of food has not returned to the low levels that preceded the doubling and tripling of wheat and rice prices over 2007 and 2008. Credit is costly for farmers and after last year's massive harvest that brought down prices, planting has been weak. Anxiety about the future has spurred those countries with cash to make big investments in the soil. [...] There is an assumption of equality in the transaction — the trade of rice for oil — but history suggests that the harvesting of resources by those with capital in foreign countries which lack capital is a risky business. The director-general of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation suggested that the drive to buy up farmland in poor countries would create a “neo-colonial agricultural system”. [...] In Sudan, where the UN's World Food Programme is feeding millions of people, the irony of the Saudi farms is particularly bleak. But perhaps the UN's hand-wringing is just sentimental.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

A Global Retreat As Economies Dry Up

[...] Singapore is an epicenter of what analysts call a new flow of reverse migration away from hard-hit, globalized economies, including Dubai and Britain, that were once beacons for foreign labor. Economists from Credit Suisse predict an exodus of 200,000 foreigners -- or one in every 15 workers here -- by the end of 2010. [...] "The collapse of globalization . . . is absolutely possible," said Jeffrey Sachs, a noted American economist. "It happened in the 20th century in the wake of World War I and the Great Depression, and could happen again. [...] Remittances -- the financial lifelines sent home by foreign workers -- are falling from Latin America to Central Asia. The drop has been so sharp in Kyrgyzstan, which relies on remittances for 27 percent of its gross domestic product, that the U.N. World Food Program was asked to rush in emergency food aid in November for the first time since 1992. "This is a new income hit to people who can afford it the least," said Josette Sheeran, the program's executive director.
Washington Post

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