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
3 February 2009

Fasting for Lent

It’s time to start preparing for Lent — Ash Wednesday falls this year on Feb. 25. Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten Message for 2009 was introduced today at a Vatican press conference by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pope’s charity, Cor Unum. [...] Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program, also addressed today’s press conference. Stating that “hunger is on the march worldwide,” Sheeran urged Catholics to be Good Samaritans and help the billion malnourished people in the world who have no recourse to family support or to state welfare programs to provide them with food. “Sometimes I call WFP the ‘FedEx’ to the bottom billion because there are no pipelines to meet some of those in need,” Sheeran said. “So we have thousands of planes, helicopters, trains and ships, camels, donkeys and elephants at our disposal if we have to go up an isolated mountain or through an earthquake.” Speaking to the Register after the press conference, Sheeran said the fight against hunger is non-partisan and touches every faith.
NC Register
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

Fasting: Self restraint to leave room for God

This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the 2009 Lenten Message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The theme of this year’s Message is: “He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry”. Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes and Msgrs. Karel Kasteel and Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, and Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Josette Sheeran opened her comments by explaining that “one in six people on earth” suffers hunger. “But this is not a problem of food availability. It is a problem of distribution - and of greed, discrimination, wars and other tragedies”, she said. “Today, a child dies every six seconds from hunger. The question is: Is there anything that can be done to alleviate the humiliation, pain and injustice of hunger? Are there solutions that help people break the hunger trap for themselves, once and for all? The answer is overwhelmingly ‘yes’. We have the tools and technology to make this happen, and we have seen it happen in many places around the world”.
DFW Catholic
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

Japan provides much needed food assistance to Tajikistan

On Monday February 2, The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) morning signed an agreement for the provision of food commodities to the most vulnerable people in Tajikistan. According to press release issued by the WFP CO Tajikistan, the value of the Japanese contribution is US$ 4.7 million and will be used to purchase some 6,000 metric tons of wheat flour and 1,200 metric tons of pulses for distribution to food-insecure people in Tajikistan through the World Food Programme activities in the country. “This contribution comes at a critical time during winter when many Tajik people face a daily dilemma deciding between spending what little money they have on food or on heating,” said Zlatan Milisic, WFP’s Country Director in Tajikistan, during the signing ceremony. The World Food Programme aims to reach almost 1.2 million vulnerable people in Tajikistan through a variety of programs with 91,394 MT of food commodities at an overall cost of US$ 81.3 million. The project started in July 2007 and will run until the end of 2009.
Asia-Plus
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

MIDEAST: Gaza Reemerging From the Ashes

The United Nations is urgently appealing for 613 million dollars to aid more than a million desperate civilians in the ruins of Gaza, where schools, hospitals, houses, factories and even farmland were obliterated during the three-week assault by Israeli air and ground forces. Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,300 injured in the war, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Some 21,000 homes were reported destroyed or badly damaged, and more than 50,000 people were displaced into temporary U.N. shelters. "Whole industrial areas [were] completely flattened, buildings blasted into piles of rubble," Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme's (WFP) country director for the occupied Palestinian territories, reported after her recent trip to Gaza. "While there were some areas left totally untouched, it was precisely the strategic economic areas that Gaza depends on to relieve its dependency on aid that were wiped out," she wrote.
Inter Press Service (IPS)
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

MYANMAR: Rats exacerbate food insecurity in Chin State

Food insecurity in Myanmar's remote and impoverished Chin State, northwestern Myanmar, has worsened following a major infestation of rats. "It has been well documented that food insecurity in Chin is chronic," Chris Kaye, country representative for the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) told IRIN from Yangon, the former Burmese capital. "The rat infestation has made this acute in several areas and this acute situation remains, particularly among communities in Madupi and Paletwa [townships]," he said. According to WFP, farmers are now struggling to meet day-to-day food needs and resorting to edibles gathered from the forests.
Reuters / IRIN
Hunger in the news
3 February 2009

UN emergency relief coordinator launches humanitarian action plan for Afghanistan

John Holmes, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, today launched the Humanitarian Action Plan to help vulnerable people in Afghanistan in 2009. Following the launch, he briefed journalists at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. He was accompanied by Nesar Popal, Advisor to the Presidency of Afghanistan, and Bo Asplund, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. [...] Answering a question on whether the explosion of a bridge in the Khyber Pass would affect humanitarian routes and the expanded assistance plans, Mr. Holmes said insecurity was a huge problem, especially for the population, but for humanitarian organizations it was a problem in terms of access of delivery. There were large areas that were extremely difficult to access, in particular for international United Nations staff and NGOs, due to the security situation. NGOs in particular had suffered grievously from insecurity in 2008 - 28 NGO workers were killed, and 72 had been abducted. United Nations agencies had suffered less, but had nevertheless had workers killed, wounded and abducted. Operations within the country continued. The World Food Programme was still able to move food around the country, and had done an amazing job in pre-positioning food supplies before the winter made moving food difficult.
ISRIA
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Rohingya Face More Hardships at Home, Abroad

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will talk to 66 Rohingya boat people on Tuesday, after a Thai court convicted them of illegally entering the country, a UNHCR spokesperson said on Monday. The UNHCR was granted access to 12 teenagers from a group of 78 Rohingya detained last week. Kitty McKinsey, the regional spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Asia, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the UNHCR will meet members of the group to determine if some want to seek political asylum in Thailand. [...] A rising tide of Rohingya refugees has been fleeing Burma to the neighboring countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Their numbers usually increase after November, when the seas are at their calmest. One hundred Rohingya illegal migrants recently were arrested by Indonesian authorities in Aceh. Many seek to escape the economic hardship of their restricted lives and turn to brokers to help them find work outside Arakan State. The World Food Program reported last year that the area faces food shortages. The condition has forced hundreds of Rohingya to depart on the sea in leaky vessels and head for Malaysia, but many end up on Thailand beaches or drown in the stormy waters of the Andaman Sea.
The Irrawaddy
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Malaysia conveys to MILF RP’s desire to resume talks

Acting promptly, Malaysia has conveyed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) the desire of the Philippine government to immediately resume the collapsed Mindanao peace process. Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, acknowledged the communication from Malaysia, the negotiation’s sole facilitator and host of meetings. Malaysia, however, did not set yet a date for the talks’ revival, he said. [...] Iqbal lauded the Japanese Government for its continuing assistance to the Mindanao peace process and the region’s development. [...] Japan will provide 7,500 metric tons of rice for the Mindanao evacuees through the World Food Programme (WFP) headed in the Philippines by country representative Stephen Anderson.
Manila Bulletin
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Gunmen in Pakistan Kidnap American Official

Gunmen in southern Pakistan kidnapped an American United Nations official and fatally shot his driver Monday, the latest in a recent series of high-profile kidnappings and targeted hits on foreigners. Pakistani police in the southern city of Quetta said an unknown number of gunmen ambushed the car of John Solecki, the chief of the U.N. refugee office in the province of Baluchistan, about 8:30 a.m., soon after he left home for his office. The car's driver, Hashim Raza, was killed almost instantly after the gunmen opened fire on the vehicle, said Khalid Masood, a senior police official in Quetta. [...] Abductions and assassinations of foreigners and aid workers have increased in Pakistan within the past year, affecting the operations of several major humanitarian organizations in the country, including the U.N. In April, Taliban gunmen kidnapped and later released two local workers with the U.N.'s World Food Program in northwest Pakistan.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Afghanistan: Winter crisis averted in north?

Prompt distribution of food aid, improved coordination among aid agencies and a relatively mild winter have prevented mass displacements in the drought-stricken northern provinces of Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said. "This year there was, in general, much better coordination between relevant government bodies and UN agencies, particularly with WFP [UN World Food Programme] as a key player. The other factor that really matters is that people in the areas most affected by drought are not facing such a harsh winter as last year," Dusan Vukotic, an ICRC official in Kabul, told IRIN.
IRIN News

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