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
4 February 2009

Fasting in Lent

Fasting from food and detaching oneself from material goods during Lent help believers open their hearts to God and open their hands to the poor, Pope Benedict XVI said. [...] The papal message for Lent, which begins Feb. 25 for Latin-rite Catholics, was released Feb. 3 at the Vatican. [...] The Vatican invited Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N.'s World Food Program, to help present the papal message. "Serving the hungry is a moral call that unites people of all faiths," said Sheeran, whose organization relies heavily on Catholic charities and other faith-based organizations to distribute food aid. "At this time of worldwide economic challenges, let us not forget that the food and financial crises hit the world's most vulnerable the hardest," she said. "Since 2007, 115 million were added to the ranks of the hungry to create a total of nearly 1 billion people without adequate food."
Catholic Chronicle
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Agency Says Hamas Took Aid Intended for Needy

The United Nations agency that provides assistance to Palestinian refugees said Wednesday that the Hamas police in Gaza had seized aid supplies intended for the needy, signaling increased tensions between the agency and the Hamas leaders of the Palestinian enclave. The accusation was made in a statement by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or Unrwa, which condemned the action “in the strongest terms” and demanded the return of the goods. On Tuesday afternoon, according to the statement, the police confiscated about 3,500 blankets and more than 400 food parcels from a warehouse at the Gaza City Beach Camp that were meant to help hundreds of families in the area.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Aid Agencies Warn Millions Face Hunger in Kenya

Millions of Kenyans risk hunger this year, according to the government and the U.N. World Food Program, unless international donors grappling with their own financial crises step in to provide massive aid. The World Food Program sent out teams this week to assess the extent of the crisis after yet another rash of crop failures caused by prolonged drought; the agency says historical data suggests 3.2 million people will need aid. In many of the worst affected areas, this is the third consecutive failed harvest. WFP estimates that $135 million will be needed to tackle the crisis through the expansion of emergency projects. ''This is a very alarming situation,'' WFP spokeswoman Gabrielle Menezes said as she led a group of journalists across a field filled with dry and broken cornstalks. ''People already hit by high food prices are struggling to feed themselves.''
New York Times / AP
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Report: China offers aid to impoverished NKorea

North Korea's state media said Wednesday that China has offered Pyongyang aid, a deal that was likely reached at a recent meeting between reclusive leader Kim Jong Il and a senior Chinese official. The Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch that the aid will be "an encouragement" to North Koreans in their efforts to build "a great, prosperous, powerful nation." It did not say what kind or how much aid China had offered. The impoverished communist country has resorted to outside handouts to help feed its 23 million people since its centrally controlled economy collapsed in the mid-1990s due to natural disasters and mismanagement.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Sean Penn's new PSA to fight world hunger

The United Nations World Food Program unveiled this PSA during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week. It has a pretty effective visual going for it, plus it has Sean Penn
Wall street Journal
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Zimbabwe aid conditional, says US

The US says it will only consider easing sanctions against Zimbabwe when it sees evidence of real power-sharing between the rival parties. A state department spokesman said new aid for Harare was dependant on inclusive and effective governance. The statement comes a day after a similar announcement by the UK. Meanwhile, parliament has delayed a debate on changes to the constitution to allow opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to become prime minister. [...] Zimbabwe is enduring rampant inflation and an escalating food crisis.
BBC News
Food Security Analysis
3 February 2009

DA chief Yap renews call for a global food reserve

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has renewed his plea to various governments for the establishment of a global food reserve to stabilize supply and prices in the world market. Such food reserve, particularly for rice and other cereals, would also act as an emergency supply in case of production shortfalls. Speaking before world leaders at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Food Security for All in Madrid last week, Yap said setting up a food reserve is urgent concern since there are indications that there would be another round of price spikes that would contribute to panic buying. He stressed the retreat of food prices at the moment is temporary. [...] When prices are too low, as it is today, he said the Reserve will buy rice stocks from producers to prevent the rice from being dumped into the market and depressing prices further, thus protecting the welfare of farmers. On the other hand, when prices are too high, the Reserve will protect consumers by releasing rice into the market, bought at a lower price, to stabilize supplies, he said. “These stocks can be pre-positioned around the globe to answer the call of the most vulnerable and operated by an existing organization like the World Food Programme, with a proven track record in food relief and management operations," Yap said. “This mechanism promotes certainty. And certainty dispels volatility."
GMA News TV
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

UN expresses concern over shelling of hospital in Sri Lanka

The United Nations has expressed concern over the shelling of a hospital in northern Sri Lanka, the scene of heavy fighting between the army and the LTTE, emphasising the ever-increasing threat to the lives of some 250,000 civilians trapped in the region. Gordon Weiss of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the hospital, in the north-east of the island nation, was shelled numerous times on Sunday, resulting in the killing of 11 people altogether, including one nurse. [...] The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is trying to negotiate a new convoy out of the area and into Government-controlled territory, where the patients can be treated properly, Weiss said. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is continuing negotiations with the Government to secure an adequate window for the next humanitarian convoy into the area, though no convoy has gotten in since last week
The Hindu / PTI
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

Cholera infection rate climbs as UN cleared to assess crisis

The cholera infection rate is steadily rising this week, with almost 2000 cases added to the official figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday. [...] The new figures come as Robert Mugabe has finally consented to allow a top level United Nations assessment team to tour Zimbabwe to find ways to curb the cholera epidemic as well as the devastating hunger crisis. Critical food shortages across the country have seen the number of Zimbabweans in need of food aid rise to almost seven million people, and the situation has forced the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) to half its monthly rations of maize to cater for as many people as possible. WFP officials have said the ration cut will allow the group to reach an estimated 5.1 million starving Zimbabweans, but have also acknowledged that the new ration ‘falls below what is considered a survival ration.’ Those fortunate enough to receive food packages ‘would now have to find additional means to stay alive,’ WFP regional spokesperson Richard Lee told the UK’s Guardian news service. But in a country where there are few food sources and many families have been forced to survive on scavenged fruit and seeds, ‘additional means’ will be hard to find.
SW Radio Africa
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

Crop-eating pests laying more larvae in Liberia

Swarms of crop-eating pests are laying more larvae in the West African country, experts said Tuesday, warning that the caterpillars also have been identified as a species capable of more damage than previously believed.
Washington Post / AP

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