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
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
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

Wait and see

On January 30th, after months of repeatedly failed negotiations, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, decided to enter a government of national unity alongside President Robert Mugabe. More accurately, Mr Tsvangirai at last bowed to the huge political and diplomatic pressure exerted on him by South Africa and other regional countries to do a deal. [...] Contrary to frequent misreporting in Zimbabwe, Western sanctions are targeted very narrowly at Mr Mugabe and those senior ZANU-PF politicians who have helped bring a once-prosperous country to its knees. They have played no part in Zimbabwe’s economic ruin; that is mostly Made in Zimbabwe. Humanitarian aid should continue to flow to those United Nations agencies and NGOs that are directly helping millions of desperately poor and cholera-infected ordinary Zimbabweans.
The Economist
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

GM crops 'may give lower yields'

US researchers have criticised claims that genetically modified (GM) crops can help feed a hungry world. GM crops have been a "spectacular under-performer" in terms of yields, according to Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Recent yield gains are just as likely to result from conventional breeding techniques as they are from genetic engineering, he says. GM crops cover about 10% of all commercial farmland globally.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

China Battles Worsening Drought

China's leaders ordered emergency measures to battle one of the country's worst droughts in decades, which is threatening to damage nearly a fifth of China's wheat harvest and millions of livestock. [...] A poor harvest could mean higher food prices at a time when rising unemployment has been especially acute among migrant factory workers, many of whom are returning to the countryside after layoffs from city jobs. The government, however, says it isn't yet worried about the effect of the drought on food supplies because of current stockpiles and because it could further subsidize the rural poor if conditions worsen.
Wall street Journal
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

Tails you win: prize for catching 40,000 rats is a colour TV

A poor farmer from northern Bangladesh was awarded a 14in colour television yesterday after being crowned the country’s rat-killing champion. Binoy Kumar Karmakar, 40, used traps, poison and flooding to kill 39,650 rats over the course of a year, equivalent to one every 13 minutes, according to government officials and local media reports. He cut off and kept the creatures’ tails as proof of his claim to the top prize in the competition, which was organised by the Government to stop rats from eating scarce food supplies. [...] Last year a plague of rats in the southeastern region of Chittagong Hill Tracts destroyed the crops of tens of thousands of people, and caused famine in some remote villages. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) distributed aid to 120,000 people for four months after the infestation had forced villagers – mostly from local hill tribes – to live on wild roots.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

Israeli crossing ban halts UN program preaching non-violence to Gaza's young

Beyond the worsening shortage of food, mattresses, blankets and clothes for Gaza's 1.4 million beleaguered residents, Israel's continued closure of most access points is depriving the United Nations of paper to print out a human rights program to teach children to eschew violence, a senior UN official said on Thursday. [...] Also in Gaza, the UN World Food Program (WFP) announced Thursday that it will provide ready-to-eat meals for hospital patients who might otherwise go hungry due to food and fuel shortages. The assistance is in addition to the agency's regular distributions of wheat flour, cooking oil and chickpeas to 365,000 people affected by conflict and food shortages. WFP is aiming to distribute more than 40,000 ready-to-eat meals in the coming days. The packages, which contain items such as canned meat, chicken curry, cheese and biscuits, are part of the first tranche of ready-to-eat meals donated by Saudi Arabia in response to WFP's "Operation Lifeline Gaza" appeal.
Xinhua

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