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
15 February 2009

Rohingya are Muslim outcasts, not welcome anywhere

For generations, the ethnic Muslim Rohingya have endured persecution by the ruling junta of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country. The plight of the Rohingya, descendants of Arab traders from the 7th century, gained international attention over the past month after five boatloads of haggard migrants were found in the waters around Indonesia and the Andaman Islands. [...] Twice since the 1970s, waves of attacks by the military and Buddhist villagers forced hundred of thousands of Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh, a Muslim country whose people speak a similar language. Many have since been repatriated, but 200,000 still work there as illegal migrants and another 28,000 live in squalid refugee camps. [...] Most refugee advocates expect Rohingya migrants will keep coming. "My 14 children rely on me. They have no safety, no food, nothing," said Mohamad Salim, a 35-year-old, bearded fisherman who also was detained and hospitalized in Thailand and begged to be allowed to continue onto Malaysia. "What will they eat? How will they live if I don't find work?" he said, his voice trembling.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
15 February 2009

Surplus wheat may lead to collapse of prices

Availability of surplus wheat in the country could lead to collapse of prices in local markets this year. The government has approved a plan to procure 6.5 million tons of wheat at Rs950 per 40kg, or Rs23,750 (nearly $300) per ton, which is about $100 higher than the rates prevailing in the international market. [...] Some 590,000 tons of imported wheat began arriving at the Gwadar port on Friday. This process would continue until March 5. The Trading Corporation of Pakistan would complete import of another 272,000 tons of wheat by March 31. The World Food Programme would also provide 30,000 tons of wheat it had borrowed from Pakistan last year.
Dawn
Hunger in the news
14 February 2009

Military news in brief

[...] The frigate HMS Northumberland has just completed her first main convoy escort of merchant shipping in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia. Leaving the Kenyan port of Mombasa in late January, the frigate was protecting four merchant vessels carrying cargoes of food vital to the famine relief effort in Somalia as part of the EU-led counter-piracy operation codenamed Atalanta. [...] Throughout this time, and especially as they came close inshore, Northumberland with her detachment of Royal Marines was at constant high alert — but the handover of food aid to Somali and World Food Programme security forces was accomplished without incident.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
14 February 2009

Zimbabwe PM says Mugabe no longer main problem

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the world should no longer see President Robert Mugabe as the main problem in the country as a new unity government tries to rescue the ruined economy. Speaking to Britain’s Guardian newspaper before a unity cabinet was sworn in on Friday, Mr Mugabe’s old enemy Mr Tsvangirai said it was time to move on to urgent issues, such as widespread poverty, high unemployment and crippling hyper-inflation. [...] Zimbabweans face unemployment above 90 per cent and prices that double every day. Half the 12 million population need food aid and a cholera epidemic has killed more than 3,500 people. Both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai have named party stalwarts to the cabinet rather than technocrats seen as having the expertise Zimbabwe needs to escape its crisis. Political analysts have suggested that could lead to further mismanagement.
Financial Times / Reuters
Hunger in the news
13 February 2009

How did it come to this?

[...] The United Nations says that this month it will feed seven million Zimbabweans, more than two-thirds of the population still left in a country where drastic shortages have driven millions of the most able across the border to work illegally in South Africa. But new foreign food aid has all but dried up as the western financial crisis bites and donors hesitate to pour in more money to alleviate a crisis of President Robert Mugabe's making. So rations for most people have been cut to about 600 calories a day, less than the minimum required to keep an adult alive. There is little relief in sight with the worst harvest in decades expected this year, mostly as a result of Mugabe's land seizures and economic policies. The numbers dying are rising steadily. A silent, almost unseen, cull is underway.
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
13 February 2009

ISRAEL-OPT: Hamas providing emergency relief to Gazans

The Hamas government in Gaza has said it is trying to help thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes and/or loved ones in the 22-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January. According to deputy minister of social affairs, Sobhi Redwan, Hamas has so far spent an estimated US$50 million on emergency relief assistance, but more aid is needed. [...] Hamas has also asked international and local aid organisations, including UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian affairs), to coordinate relief efforts with the government. About 900,000 Palestinians have asked UNRWA for food aid. “In general UNRWA donates food to refugees and the World Food Programme to non-refugees, although there has been some overlap since the war,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told IRIN by phone from Jerusalem.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
13 February 2009

Teen fasts to publicize plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka

It's been eleven days since Priya Suntharalingam, a Winchester High School junior, has eaten a meal. The petite 17-year-old is the youngest of eight ethnic Tamils in the country who are fasting to call attention to the plight of their countrymen in Sri Lanka, an island nation off the coast of India where some 300,000 members of the Tamil minority are trapped in the fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil rebel army. [...] In recent weeks, hundreds of noncombatants are believed to have been killed in the fighting; the Sri Lankan government has reportedly bombed hospitals, and a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew herself up at a refugee camp. The Sri Lankan military has been reluctant to let World Food Program convoys into the war zone, insisting that a humanitarian pause would let the rebels regroup or escape.
Boston Globe
Hunger in the news
13 February 2009

UN Mission Expected to Visit Zimbabwe This Month

A United Nations humanitarian mission will visit Zimbabwe this month to assess the country's needs and how the world body could provide assistance, The Herald reported on Friday. The mission, to run between February 21 and 25, follows a meeting between Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the 12th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of heads of state and government held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recently. According to a statement released by the world body, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs would lead the mission that will also include participation of the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children's Fund and World Food Program.
CRI / Xinhua
Hunger in the news
13 February 2009

Woman fighter first in Sudan's UN-backed demobilization program

A woman was the first ex-combatant to be demobilized in this week's historic launch of a UN-backed program, according to a UN press release Thursday. Fatima, a former member of the People's Defense Forces, was first in line when 15 ex-combatants, including four other women, stepped forward on Wednesday in Ed Damazin in Blue Nile State at the start of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program. [...] During the ceremony, ex-combatants relinquished their weapons and in return received a DDR identification card, cash, non-food items and a coupon for food rations provided by the UN World Food Program.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
13 February 2009

O'Keeffe says aid to UN food programme should be cut

FIANNA FÁIL TD Ned O’Keeffe says the State should cut its support for the United Nations food aid programme in the current economic downturn. [...] The committee heard €10.5 million was contributed to the World Food Programme (WFP) through the Department of Agriculture in 2007. A portion of that funding was used to provide air transport for food to refugees in remote regions of Chad. “Charity begins at home. . . I don’t think we can keep that level of money going if we want to be generous to our own people,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Irish Times

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