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

Co-Chairs urge Tigers to disarm

The Co-Chairs of the Tokyo aid conference -Norway, Japan, the US and EU - yesterday called on the LTTE to lay down arms and discuss with the government the modalities of ending hostilities to avoid further civilian casualties. Jointly expressing their great concern about the plight of thousands of internally displaced persons trapped by fighting in northern Sri Lanka, the Co-Chairs called on the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka not to fire out of or into the no-fire zone established by the Government or in the vicinity of the Puthukudiruppu hospital (or any other medical structure), where more than 500 patients are receiving care and many hundreds more have sought refuge. They also call on both sides to allow food and medical assistance. [...]Minister Abeywardena charged that the LTTE continued to launch shell attacks into the no-war zone. He said the military had agreed to open the Oddusudan check point for the smooth flow of relief items, and this would help the World Food Programme to send essential items with the assistance of the UN. The government has a buffer stock of 8,000 tonnes of essential supplies in Vavuniya to be sent to the Wanni.
Daily Mirror
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Afghanistan a UN priority: chief

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday declared Afghanistan a priority for the United Nations and pledged to do the utmost to support key presidential elections this year. Ban made a surprise visit to Kabul as the embattled country prepares for its second-ever presidential vote in August while facing an insurgency at its highest point since a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in 2001. [...] The United Nations has said security reached its lowest point in Afghanistan last year since the Taliban was removed from government with a spike in attacks, including on aid workers. "The situation in Afghanistan is serious and it's getting worse," the UN's top relief official, John Holmes, said in Geneva on Tuesday. The reasons were "escalating conflict and also because of the serious drought which has been raging there for two years in some parts of the country," he said. Violence has prevented UN and other aid workers from accessing large swathes of the country, and several World Food Programme aid convoys have been attacked and looted in recent years.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

People at risk of starvation in NE Uganda

More than 970,000 people are at risk of starvation following a severe drought in northeastern Uganda. Humanitarian agencies in the region say that people have resorted to eating wild fruits, leaves, and rodents for survival. The UN World Food Program and the Ugandan government have launched a 64 million U.S. dollar emergency operation to avoid the situation slipping into famine.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Retailers in no rush to reopen doors in Zimbabwe

Despite Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai joining the government of national unity last week and the government changing policy to allow businesses to charge in foreign currencies, local retailers are not leaping to be the first back into the country that was once known as Africa’s bread basket. [...] The country is [...] in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. The World Health Organisation has put the number of cholera deaths at more than 3000 while about 7-million Zimbabweans need food aid, up from 5,1-million six months ago, according to the World Food Programme.
Business Day
Hunger in the news
4 February 2009

Somalia's total meltdown

The search for a government -- any kind of government -- to bring order to Somalia is growing increasingly desperate as warring Islamist factions, tribal clans and bandit gangs exploit a power vacuum created by last week's Ethiopian troop withdrawal. Just when it seemed the plight of Somali civilians could not get any worse, it did. Aid workers and human rights groups are not mincing words: catastrophe is just around the corner. [...] The World Food Programme said earlier this month that it might have to suspend food distribution after two of its employees were murdered.
The Mail and Guardian
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."
Seattle Post Intellegencer / AP
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

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