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
9 March 2009

Major Challenges Remain for Global Food Security

While much of the publicity surrounding the global recession has focused on people losing their jobs or retirement savings, the nightmare is even more immediate for hundreds of millions of others who live at the edge of survival. They go to bed hungry. Food relief agencies say 2008 was among the toughest for the world's less fortunate because food prices for much of the year were so high. The price of food is just one problem preventing people from getting enough to eat. [...] "I brought a cup," Josette Sheeran says, "to point out that for the world's most vulnerable who often have access to this much food a day, with food prices doubling, that was cut in half," she said. Josette Sheeran is the executive director of the United Nations' World Food Program. She spoke in Washington about the global food crisis. A new study by the Chatham House research institute in London found global food prices actually eased significantly in the second half of 2008.
Voice of America News
Hunger in the news
9 March 2009

Sudan Can't Fill Gaps From Expelled Aid Groups: U.N.

The Sudanese government lacks sufficient capacity to do the work of the aid groups it has ordered out of the country's war-ravaged Darfur region, the top U.N. humanitarian affairs official said on Monday. [...] Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem on Friday told reporters that the Sudanese government would have no problem filling in any gaps in aid distribution created by the expulsion of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs). But U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes told reporters on Monday that this was not the case. [...] Holmes added that U.N. and NGO staff have faced harassment at the hands of Sudanese security forces, including "intimidatory behavior." He added that U.N. officials had complained about this to the government. "Assets of international NGOs have been confiscated, including in some cases United Nations assets I have to say, things like vehicles and computers, vital data for assistance to beneficiaries, ... food and non-food items," he said. Holmes said there were one or two warehouses containing World Food Program food seized by local authorities, which he hoped would be returned.
New York Times / Reuters
Hunger in the news
9 March 2009

WFP stops feeding over 210,000 displaced persons in war-ravaged N Uganda

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Monday announced that it had stopped general food distributions for an estimated 214,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in war-torn northern Uganda. Stanlake Samkange, WFP Country Director, said in a statement that due to the "much improved security situation in the region", after over 20 years of war, the IDPs can now access farming land. He said the Global Acute Malnutrition in the region has also decreased and is now below 10 percent. [...] He said though the food aid agency has stopped the distribution, it will continue to monitor the food and nutrition security situation to avoid a relapse. "We will support phased-off IDPs through recovery initiatives including cash and vouchers, so as to help them rebuild their livelihoods," he said.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
7 March 2009

South Sudan party condemns aid group expulsion

South Sudan's ruling party urged the Khartoum government on Saturday to reverse its decision to expel aid agencies that it had accused of passing information to war crimes prosecutors. Khartoum shut down 13 foreign and three local aid groups this week after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges of war crimes in Darfur. Aid groups deny the allegation. Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) spokesman Yien Matthew said the expulsion would have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of displaced Darfuris. [...] 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 programmes run by the World Food Programme and other bodies. The expulsions did not affect agencies in southern Sudan.
International Herald Tribune / Reuters
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

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