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
5 March 2009

WFP to distribute food aid to 5.2 million Zimbabweans

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced Thursday that it would provide 45,000 tonnes of emergence food aid to 5.2 million Zimbabweans in March but said recipients would continue to get reduced rations to meet the high demand. The UN agency said 4.6 million or nearly 90 percent of the recipients would be from vulnerable groups such as young children and those suffering from diseases like HIV and AIDS.
African Press Agency (APA)
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

End the plight of Asia's poppy farmers

Red and white opium poppies are back in colourful profusion once again, expanding across the mountainous landscapes of northern Laos after several years of intensive poppy eradication. Illicit cultivation is also on the rise in the Shan states of Burma. UN drug officials are alarmed that the effect of the global economic crisis on the value of cash crops is tempting impoverished hill farmers to return to growing the one crop that offers stable financial returns. [...] The wisdom and sustainability of UN's anti-opium strategy has been consistently challenged by NGOs, development workers and academics. Dr David Feingold, an anthropologist and expert on the Akha hill tribe says: "The opium eradication policy in Laos was both poorly conceived and poorly executed." Without viable alternatives, former opium farmers became destitute and dependent on emergency food aid from the UN's World Food Programme (WFP). Given that the UN millennium objectives are all about enhancing food security, the hastily implemented campaign against opium cultivation had achieved just the opposite.
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

ICC gives solace to Darfur refugees

Quiet contentment is the best way to describe reactions to the news of Omar al-Bashir's indictment in the Farchana refugee camp - a dustbowl in the far east of Chad, home to 20,000 Sudanese from Darfur. Although some of the more educated camp leaders articulated their happiness at the verdict, there was no massive outpouring of jubilation, or much to show that today was different from any other. [...] As we journalists argue frantically with editors in London and kick malfunctioning equipment, a steady stream of ladies dressed in stunning yellow and orange striped fabric glide silently past with grain sacks and water balanced on their heads. The children start to wander off. Today's food distribution by the UN's World Food Programme seems to be the new show in town.
BBC News
5 March 2009

Saudis get first taste of foreign harvest

Saudi Arabia has announced the arrival of the first food crop harvested in Saudi-owned farms abroad, in a sign that the kingdom is moving faster than expected to outsource agricultural production. Rice, harvested in famine-hit Ethiopia by a group of Saudi investors, was presented to King Abdullah recently and comes as other countries are still in the early stages of investing in overseas farms. The Ethiopian origin is likely to raise concerns about the trend to outsource food production to poor African countries, some of which suffer from chronic hunger. In the past year the United Nations World Food Programme has helped to feed 11m people in Ethiopia, which has suffered crop failures and food distribution problems. Some analysts argue that foreign investment in agriculture, even if earmarked for export, could ultimately help poor countries, providing them with employment, infrastructure, access to agricultural technology and export tax revenues. However, western agriculture officials familiar with the Saudi plans say they are sceptical that the kingdom's investment in food production overseas will help poor countries such as Ethiopia.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

Sri Lanka: Civilian circumstances "dire"

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organised the eighth sea evacuation of sick and wounded civilians and their dependents from combat areas on 4 March, but officials warned the situation was dire. [...] The ICRC established the ferry service in February with the assistance of the Navy when evacuation overland was halted because of security fears. The ferry service has also been used by World Food Programme (WFP) to transport food into the combat areas. Heavy fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Vanni Pocket in the Mullaithivu District in northern Sri Lanka has forced tens of thousands to flee. More than 36,000 have fled the fighting since January to safer areas behind government lines, but thousands remain trapped. The ICRC estimates that up to 150,000 persons are still in the Vanni Pocket.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

Sudan's Leader Shuts Down Aid Groups

Western aid groups in Darfur were forced to close clinics and put off a meningitis vaccination campaign Thursday because of the Sudanese government's decision to revoke their registration hours after President Omar al-Bashir was made the target of an international arrest warrant. Ten aid groups were told to suspend operations by Sunday, three days before the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. [...] Some groups, including the World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services, were allowed to continue operating.
Time Magazine
Hunger in the news
5 March 2009

US lawmakers urge tighter Palestinian aid controls

US lawmakers demanded Thursday that the United Nations impose tighter controls on the UN agency that manages aid to the Palestinians to ensure no US funds end up in the pockets of extremists. "The United Nations should take immediate steps to improve the transparency and accountability of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)," said Democratic Representative Steve Rothman. [...] Republican Representative Mark Kirk blasted UNRWA's accounting practices as likely to enable the Palestinian military group Hamas to syphon off some of a new US aid pledge of 900 million dollars for the West Bank and Gaza. If the group managed to grab 10 percent of that package, "the United States taxpayer would be then the number-two financial supporter of Hamas after the government of Iran," he said. Kirk said he would rather see the funds go through the US Agency for International Development, the World Food Program, or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "If we insist on providing these funds we should provide them to reputable foreign assistance organizations who are operating under American standards of transparency and accountability," he said.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
4 March 2009

In China, Despair Among Migrant Workers

Li Jiang was hungry. Huddled in the freezing rain with more than 1,000 other people at 6 a.m., he stood patiently in line hoping he had come early enough to get some of the free rice porridge steaming in giant cauldrons nearby. [...] Six months into what economists and labor experts say is China's worst job crisis since it began market reforms 30 years ago, many among the most vulnerable -- an estimated 20 million workers who lost their jobs after migrating from the countryside to cities -- are becoming desperate. [...] Food lines like the one in Yiwu recall the worst period in modern Chinese economic history -- the 1958-61 famine that resulted from the Great Leap Forward, when, as part of a plan to transform a largely agrarian society into an industrialized one, millions abandoned their farms to work in factories, leading to food shortages. China is not in any danger of that happening again. Since then, the country has kept generous reserves of grains, pork and other staples, and it has an estimated $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves that it can use to buy the food it needs from elsewhere.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
4 March 2009

UN food program presses on amid global recession

Amid a financial recession that is impacting the globe, the World Food Programme continues to raise money and awareness about the world hunger crisis that is affecting about 1 billion people who are living on a dollar a day, according to one UN advisor. "Hunger is a silent emergency," said Douglas Coutts, senior advisor for the UN World Food Programme, at a keynote speech in the Lory Student Center on Tuesday afternoon. Coutts said that the recession has impacted the World Food Programme's funding, but donors have increased their contributions in order to make up for that deficit. "Young people make the biggest impact because people pay attention to them." Coutts said.
Rocky Mountain Collegian
Hunger in the news
4 March 2009

Amuru has dire education needs

Amuru District recorded the worst performance in last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations in Acholi sub-region because students are hungry. This was revealed by district Inspector of Schools Richard Irwenyo. He said pupils walk distances of up 7 kilometers and yet study on empty stomachs. In a bid to address the issue of hunger in schools, World Food Programme (WFP) in conjunction with the Ministry of Education have launched a strategy to feed school-going children in Amuru district. WFP Country Director Stanlake Samkange said that ensuring that parents send children to school with packed lunch is a cornerstone of this campaign.
Daily Monitor

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