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 February 2009

Davos, the Poor, and the Crash of '08

There was fear in the air at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Neither the snowy, gorgeous Alpine setting nor the festivities could offset the acrid tastes of desperation, confusion, and panic that seemefd to result from every single discussion and speech. [...] According to the World Food Program, the numbers of people in the world that are facing chronic starvation rose 10 percent in 2008, largely due to sharp rises in food commodity prices. Thailand's prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, charged that "the world has never been more advanced in terms of creating wealth, and yet more and more are becoming hungry. The problem we face is a reflection of market and government failures," amid agricultural market distortions. "The root causes are all about distribution and purchasing power. In some countries, despite the food surplus, the very poorest are the farmers."
Council on Foreign Relations
Hunger in the news
9 February 2009

Kufuor Gets More Appointments

Former president John Agyekum Kufuor, currently in Milan, Italy, has accepted two more international appointments with the United Nations World Food Programme and the Milan Expo 2015. With the UN, he has been offered to serve as Global Ambassador for Hunger for the World Food Programme (WFP). This is according to the WFP executive director, Josette Sheeran, who on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki- Moon, made this known to the former President in Milan.
Modern Ghana
Hunger in the news
9 February 2009

Zimbabwe 'aid dependence growing'

Zimbabwe has suspended import duties on a list of scarce basic food items, including rice and cooking oil, for the first six months of 2009, state-run media reported on Monday. [...] The new measure, valid until June 30, would be reviewed depending on the expansion of the country’s industrial capacity to meet local need, the report added. Figures in January from the World Food Programme indicated that more than half of Zimbabwe’s 12 million people did not have enough to eat. An estimated three million Zimbabweans have fled the country’s economic and political instability, and are now supporting their families with both cash and food.
The Citizen
Hunger in the news
8 February 2009

'Thousands' flee Tamil Tiger area

More than 10,000 Sri Lankan civilians have fled in the past few days from rebel-held territory in the north, the government says. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse called on the Tamil Tigers to let thousands more civilians leave and then unconditionally surrender. [...] Aid agencies - most recently the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) - continue to remain concerned about the plight of thousands of civilians who it is feared are trapped between the two sides.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
8 February 2009

China: $13-billion drought relief for wheat growers

With the global economic crisis already producing unrest in rural areas, Chinese authorities have taken emergency action in wheat-growing regions that are suffering from their worst drought in 50 years. The three northern provinces that account for more than half the country's wheat production have seen winter rainfall levels as much as 80% lower than normal, the National Meteorological Center reported. In a sign of how seriously the government is taking the drought [...] state-run media news reported Saturday that the Finance Ministry had allocated nearly $13 billion for drought relief, most of which will fund direct grants to farmers.
Los Angeles Times
Hunger in the news
8 February 2009

In Brief: Financial speculators and the food crisis

A food security expert has said that the involvement of financial markets in basic food commodities was the biggest factor in the worldwide food price hikes over the past couple of years. Peter Timmer, a visiting professor at Stanford University, said in a video interview posted on the UN World Food Programme website on 6 February that financial speculation in important food staples created a ‘bubble’ that disconnected market prices from underlying supply and demand fundamentals and produced severe volatility.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
8 February 2009

Our culture of wasting food will one day leave us hungry

All the talk of genetically modifying crops would be unnecessary if the supermarkets - and consumers - weren't so wasteful
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
8 February 2009

Red Cross urges safe passage for sick in Sri Lanka

Hundreds of sick and wounded people are stranded in a makeshift hospital in war-wracked northern Sri Lanka, the Red Cross said Saturday as it urged the government and Tamil Tiger rebels to let the patients out of the conflict zone. Meanwhile, the military said 14 rebels, including two leaders, were killed Friday in an air force raid on rebel positions. The chief of the rebel sea wing has been reported missing and could be among the dead. The makeshift hospital in Puttumatalan village is the only medical facility available in the region after the war zone's last hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu was forced shut after being shelled for days in attacks the Red Cross said left at least 12 people dead and 30 wounded. [...] The United Nations warned Friday of a food crisis in the conflict zone, saying World Food Program stocks in the area were gone.
USA Today / AP
Hunger in the news
8 February 2009

Tigers stare at defeat after 25 years

After more than 25 years of bloodletting, the government's war with ethnic Tamil separatists appears to be in its final stages in the north of the country. Last week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa predicted that the war was just days from ending, and one of his senior ministers said that the military campaign was in its "mopping up" stages. [...] Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the UN World Food Program (WFP), said the remaining civilian population in the war zone is facing a food crisis. Some 250,000 people there are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but the WFP has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since January 16. A convoy that was supposed to enter during a four-hour "humanitarian window" on Thursday could not go because the agency did not receive the necessary clearance from government officials.
The Scotsman
Hunger in the news
7 February 2009

Zimbabwe 'aid dependence growing'

Humanitarian groups are warning that more than half the people in Zimbabwe will be dependent on food aid by the end of the year. The World Food Programme said that the food situation was "very serious and very critical in many areas" in the country once called the breadbasket of Africa. "We estimated back in June 2008 that around five million people in Zimbabwe would need food assistance," Richard Lee, a WFP spokesman in Johannesburg, South Africa, told Al Jazeera on Saturday. "The figure now is around seven million people - well over half the population. It is a very, very serious situation; very critical in many areas."
Al Jazeera English

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