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
6 February 2009

UN: 250K Civilians Facing Food Crisis in Sri Lanka

The United Nations warned Friday that civilians caught in the shrinking sliver of territory still controlled by the rebels are facing a massive food crisis, and convoys may not be able to deliver supplies until late next week. [...] Adding to concerns, the World Food Program said that the entire population of the Vanni is facing a food crisis. They are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but WFP said it has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since Jan. 16. A convoy that was supposed to enter during a 4-hour "humanitarian window" Thursday could not go because the agency did not receive the necessary clearance from government officials, Emilia Casella, a spokeswoman for the agency in Geneva, told reporters. The earliest they would be able to send in another convoy is next Thursday, she said.
ABC News (USA)
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

Gaza: U.N. Agency Stops Its Imports

The United Nations agency that distributes food to a majority of Gaza’s refugees said Friday that it was suspending imports of goods because Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, had twice stolen aid from it. The agency said that it would not import any more until the stolen goods were returned and assurances were given that the theft would not recur.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
6 February 2009

War zone faces food crisis in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan president promised to safeguard civilians caught in the war between the government and Tamil rebel forces, as the UN warned on Friday that the entire conflict zone was facing a massive food crisis. The humanitarian crisis was building as the military continued its relentless offensive, which has almost routed the Tamil Tigers and virtually ended their 25-year war for a separate Tamil nation in this Sinhalese-majority country. [...] Emilia Casseli, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program in Geneva, said that the entire population of the Vanni was facing a food crisis. About 250,000 people there are completely dependent on humanitarian aid, but the food program has not been able to get a supply convoy into the conflict zone since Jan. 16, she said. 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, she said.
International Herald Tribune / AP
Aid professionals
6 February 2009

Zimbabwe's children suffer as schools stay closed

On a recent school day morning, Florence Marembo was all dressed up with nowhere to study: The 12-year-old instead played with a dozen other students on the grounds of her school in a suburb of Zimbabwe's capital. Her teachers at Gwinyiro Primary School said they wouldn't work until the government pays them in foreign currency because they can't even afford the bus fare amid the country's economic meltdown. [...] The swift decline of an education system that once was the pride of the region has matched the general unraveling of Zimbabwe's economy and infrastructure as President Robert Mugabe clings to the power he has held for 28 years. Aid groups warn the closures also mean that hundreds of thousands of children will go hungry unless the schools open because it's the only place many children can get a proper meal. [...] The U.N. World Food Program has increased its estimate of the number of Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid from 5 million to 7 million. Zimbabwe's population was set at 12 million in a 2002 census, but more than a quarter of the population has fled the country's political and economic crisis since then.
The Boston Globe / AP
Hunger in the news
5 February 2009

Champion rat killer claims his prize

A poor farmer from northern Bangladesh was crowned the country's rat killing champion on Thursday with a final score of 39 650 dead rodents after a year-long hunt. Binoy Kumar Karmakar, 40, used traps, poison and flooding to kill his quarry, and collected their tails to prove his success rate and claim a prize from the government. [...] Last year an invasion of rats in Bangladesh's southeastern Chittagong hill tracts region wiped out crops and caused a famine in some remote villages. The UN's World Food Programme distributed food aid to 120 000 people for four months after the invasion forced affected tribal people to live on wild roots.

IOL / SAPA-AFP
Hunger in the news
5 February 2009

Japanese envoy visits conflict-torn Mindanao, pledges assistance

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura today visited Filipino evacuees displaced by a chronic state of conflicts in Muslim Mindanao and pledged assistance valued at around $9 million. "On behalf of the government and people of Japan, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families who were displaced by the armed conflict here," Katsura told evacuees at a simple ceremony. [...] The Japanese Embassy in Manila announced that Japan will provide 860 million yen (about $9.7 million) in emergency food aid through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to the displaced Filipinos in Mindanao. The aid in the form of 7,500 metric tons of rice is part of Japan's peace-building efforts in Mindanao, the embassy said.
The Philippine Star / Xinhua
Hunger in the news
5 February 2009

26,000 Nepali under Food Insecurity: WFP

The World Food Program (WFP) has said that about 26,000 Nepali people in the western region are highly food-insecure due to insufficient summer crop production, high food prices, and limited income opportunities. Issuing a monthly food security bulletin, the World Food Program (WFP) Nepal stated that several areas of hills and mountains of the mid and far-west regions were highly or moderately food-insecure. The WFP's monthly food security bulletin was issued on Wednesday. Over 26,000 people are highly food insecure in Dolpa, Jumla and Mugu districts of mid-west region, where cases of acute child malnutrition have been reported.
CRI / Xinhua
Hunger in the news
5 February 2009

WFP warns of severe food insecurity in Nepal

The World Food Program (WFP) has said that there is an indication of poor to moderate winter crop yield in some parts of the Mid/Far-Western hills and mountains due to insufficient rainfall, according to media sources. A report released by the WFP stated, “If no rain occurs in February, production could considerably decrease, further deteriorating the food security situation from June onwards,” Over 26,000 people are highly food insecure in Dolpa, Jumla and Mugu districts where cases of acute child malnutrition have been reported.
Nepal News
Hunger in the news
5 February 2009

Many in Burma hungry despite food surplus

Myanmar, once known as the rice bowl of Asia, still boasts a surplus of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rice and maize. Yet a tenth of the population is going hungry, according to the first U.N. food security report on the country. "The reality is that this country has got massive potential," said Chris Kaye, country representative for the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), which has been operating in Myanmar since 1994. "Not only is it a major producer of rice but also many other agricultural products. There should not be a need for food assistance in Myanmar," said Kaye. [...] In remote Chin, a rat infestation triggered by bamboo flowering in early 2007 has affected food supplies, the report says. Kaye told AlertNet that the state, the poorest in Myanmar, is "very poorly served by development assistance and there's been limited support from the government." Northern Rakhine is home to the Rohingyas, an oppressed Muslim minority who have recently turned up on the shores of Thailand and Indonesia with tales of abuse by both the Thai and Myanmar militaries.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
5 February 2009

“The priority is always to save lives.”

John M Powell, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and WFP Deputy Executive Director, visited Yemen from 26-30 January and signed an agreement with the government to provide food aid for 500,000 of the poorest Yemenis with 30,000 metric tones of assorted food commodities . Nationwide WFP is feeding 43,500 Somali refugees. Salma Ismail of the Yemen Times met with Powell and interviewed him.
The Yemen Times

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