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
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
13 February 2009

Burkinabe queue for food vouchers

Hundreds of women queued up to receive food vouchers in Burkina Faso on Friday under a scheme the U.N. World Food Programme says is a first in Africa and it will boost business for local markets. The scheme launched in the capital Ouagadougou, where there is no shortage of food in the shops but price rises of 25 percent or more in the past year have put some staples out of the reach of the poorest people. [...] "We needed to find a way to help those who needed to eat and at the same time boost business for small shopkeepers," said Annalisa Conte, WFP resident director in the landlocked country, which remains deeply poor despite a vibrant agricultural sector. Shopkeeper Alfred Vebamba said trade was brisk.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
12 February 2009

Scientists seek to unravel date code

Chinese and Saudi scientists are working together to unravel the genetic code of the date palm, which Arabs call the "king of the oasis". By mapping out its genetic structure, the scientists hope to determine its genome organizations and all its genetic characteristics, Yu Jun, professor and associate director of the Beijing Institute for Genomics (BIG), under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said Wednesday. [...] After the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932, the date palm was incorporated in its national emblem, as representative of "vitality and growth". Saudi's groves feature more than 20 million trees and more than 320 varieties of the fruit, and yield 15 percent of the world's date palms. The country also donates a large amount of dates to hunger-stricken countries through the United Nation's World Food Program.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
12 February 2009

EU Allocates 27 Million Euros to Strengthen International Humanitarian Response

The European Commission has approved new funding of 27 million euros (35 million U.S. dollars) to strengthen global humanitarian preparedness and the response capacity of international organizations, the commission said on Thursday. The funding will be channeled to key international relief agencies, including the World Health Organization, the Red Cross, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. Children's Fund and the World Food Program.
CRI / Xinhua
Hunger in the news
12 February 2009

Humanitarian Air Operations Severely Challenged by Growing Safety Concerns, Says Senior WFP Executive

The World Food Program has announced plans to host the 1st Global Aviation Safety Conference in the Middle East. Aviation safety is the number one priority for the global aviation community. In particular, humanitarian air operations are facing unique challenges to transport aid workers for emergency relief actions to the most difficult areas and to ensure the safety and security of their air travel.
Eye of Dubai

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