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
19 February 2009

Inflation-wracked Zimbabwe pays workers in US dollars

ZIMBABWE'S new government took its first step towards rebuilding the shattered nation by honouring a pledge to civil servants by paying them in US dollars to counter the impact of hyperinflation. "We will pay every civil servant in foreign currency," Finance Minister Tendai Biti told a news conference in Harare. The armed forces had already been paid, he said. Zimbabwe is grappling with the effects of the world's highest rate of inflation. [...] Mr Tsvangirai explained that the foreign currency payment will enable people to go to work, to feed their families and to survive. Figures from the World Food Program last month indicated that more than half of Zimbabwe's 12 million people did not have enough to eat.
The Herald Sun
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Russian flour reaches Afghanistan under new aid program

A total of 25 rail cars loaded with high-quality Russian flour have already arrived in the Afghan city of Hairaton, an economic and trade advisor to the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan said on Thursday. The deliveries of food to Afghanistan, where about 300 people have recently died of hunger and cold during an unusually severe winter, were set up by the UN World Food Program. Russia is one of the program's leading donors.
Ria Novosti
19 February 2009

Gov't survey finds health, nutrition problems of Cambodian children

A recent government survey has found that the rising cost of food has halted improvements in child health and nutrition in Cambodia, English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily said on Thursday. The percentage of children under 5 found to be "acutely malnourished" has grown in recent years, the paper quoted the Cambodian Anthropometrics Survey, which was issued this week by the government's National Institute of Statistics, as saying. According to the findings, 8.4 percent of children under 5 were acutely malnourished in 2005, but the number rose to 8.9 percent last year. The report also showed a jump since 2005 in the number of young children suffering from ailments such as diarrhea, fever and respiratory infections. "If these numbers turn out to be true, this is a very serious situation and all stakeholders involved (in food security) should take action soon," the World Food Program's recently appointed Country Representative Jean-Pierre De Margerie said.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Argentina Faces Strike by Farmers

Argentine farmers, beset by falling commodity prices and drought, said they will halt sales of grains and some beef cattle for four days to protest President Cristina Kirchner's agrarian policy. The announcement came minutes after the government agreed to a meeting with farm leaders next Tuesday. Farmers are calling on Mrs. Kirchner to reduce a 35% export tax on soybeans, offer greater drought assistance and ease controls on marketing corn, wheat and beef.
Wall street Journal
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Interview: Jaime Vallaure of the UN World Food Programme in Honduras

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with one out of three children under five years old suffering from chronic malnutrition. Natural disasters like drought and flooding have all had a major impact on Honduras in recent years. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is emphasizing school feeding to combat hunger and poverty. Jaime Vallaure, WFP country director for Honduras, recently discussed the importance of school meals for children.
BlogCritics Magazine
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Israel-oPt: Food insecurity increasing after war

Thousands of food-insecure Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are facing an even worse situation after large numbers of livestock and agricultural land were badly damaged or destroyed during Israel’s military assault, which began on 27 December. [...] Chicken and meat are now very costly or unavailable, while fresh fruit and vegetables will be unavailable by May due to destroyed crops, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) in Gaza. An emergency operation was jointly approved by FAO and WFP in January to provide food to 365,000 worst-affected residents in Gaza, including social hardship cases, internally displaced people and farmers to 19 January 2010. “Part of the emergency operation is being revised in light of the war,” said senior WFP coordinator in Gaza Jeannoel Gentile. “WFP has conducted an emergency food security assessment, and the recommendations will be released this week that will confirm or increase the 365,000 figure.” WFP’s distribution has started in schools and the general distribution will start this week, said Gentile, although aid continued during the war.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Kenya: Turkana at risk of further food shortages

Food shortages in the arid Turkana region of north-western Kenya, where an increasing number of people are already unable to find enough to eat, could escalate if rains fail in March, an official warned. [...] Peter Smerdon, spokesman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said the Kenyan government, UN agencies and NGOs were conducting assessments following the October-December short rains to determine the numbers in need in Turkana and other districts. "We expect preliminary results from areas hit by the failure of the short rains, which include Turkana, to be released later this month and the final report in March," he told IRIN on 17 February. "WFP will adjust the numbers of people it feeds in Kenya accordingly."
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

Madagascar: No end in sight to standoff

Representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have arrived in Madagascar to facilitate talks between the feuding president and opposition leader. In the capital, Antananarivo, anti-government protestors marched on ministries for a third day in an attempt to install a new government as heavily armed security forces kept them at bay. The demonstrations on Wednesday 18 February ended peacefully. [...] The political unrest has coincided with the country's annual cyclone season, which is also usually a time food of shortages in southern Madagascar. In the southwestern city of Toliara, looters have targeted food warehouses and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has had to enhance security at its depots throughout the country. WFP warned that the political situation was making it more difficult to operate.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

O'Keeffe: Halt funding aid to Third World

OUTSPOKEN Cork East TD Ned O'Keeffe has called on his government colleagues to halt food aid funding to the Third World until Ireland recovers from the current economic crisis. The Fianna Fail TD has said he believed that the money Ireland spends on overseas aid must be diverted to help Irish people affected by the recession. His comments come following a recent announcement by the government that it is to reduce Ireland's overseas aid budget by €95 million. However, there are no plans on the table to reduce the Dept of Agriculture's annual contribution to the World Food Programme. Ireland currently gives almost €10 million per annum to the programme, making it one of the top ten per capita contributors to the initiative.
Corkman
Hunger in the news
19 February 2009

U.N. looks into charge over Clooney guard in Chad

The United Nations said on Thursday it was looking into a media allegation it had withdrawn a security escort for actor George Clooney, a U.N. "messenger of peace," as he visited a lawless area of Chad. U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas cast doubt on the report, saying the U.N. mission in the West African country had no armed military police and relied on others for armed escorts. In a column published on Thursday, New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, who is traveling with Clooney, linked the alleged U.N. move with nervousness in the region over a possible indictment by the International Criminal Court of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of neighboring Sudan. "We are still trying to ascertain the facts," Montas told a regular news briefing. [...] Montas said the U.N. World Food Program had flown Clooney's party to eastern Chad and enabled it to visit WFP project sites in the area, where hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region are encamped.
Reuters

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