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

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
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Delta agricultural sector in ‘critical need’ of funding: UN

The United Nations said last week there was a “critical need” for funding to help rebuild the lives of millions of people in the agriculture sector whose livelihoods were shattered when cyclone Nargis battered the Ayeyarwady delta last May. A United Nations statement issued after a meeting of international donors in Yangon last Thursday said only US$16.3 million had been provided out of $58.4 million sought for the sector under a UN Revised Appeal for funding made last July. [...] It follows a UN report issued a day earlier that said food security was still a major concern in the delta, Myanmar’s main rice-producing region. The report by the World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organisation said rice production in cyclone-affected areas of the delta had fallen to half last year’s output.
The Myanmar Times
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Five-pound note buys two souvenirs and a wide smile in Zimbabwe

It was, in every respect but one, a perfectly normal purchase — an inspection of the carved wood animals on sale at a Harare flea market, the selection of a cheetah and hippopotamus, and some good-natured haggling. What made it remarkable was that The Times paid with a British £5 note, the currency of the colonial power from which Zimbabwe gained independence 29 years ago and which Robert Mugabe constantly denounces. The stallholder was delighted. “The Zimbabwean dollar is useless,” she declared. [...] Zimbabwe's once-flourishing agricultural sector has collapsed so dramatically that the World Food Programme says that seven million Zimbabweans — three quarters of those who have not fled — are now completely dependent on UN food aid. That is the largest number anywhere, except Afghanistan and Ethiopia, and the largest, proportionally, in the world.
The Times (UK)
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Hungry Again

Fears over global hunger are back, and this time there are two drivers—not only volatile commodity prices, but also job losses and plunging incomes around the world. A study released last week by the International Labor Organization predicted that if current economic conditions continue through the new year, 200 million workers, mostly in developing countries, will be pushed into extreme poverty by loss of jobs or lowered wages. "Our message is realistic, not alarmist," says ILO Director-general Juan Somavia. "We are now facing a global jobs crisis." And, by proxy, a potential food crisis. Even though agricultural commodity prices are down from their peak last summer, hunger is likely to increase this year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which have the world's harshest labor markets and highest hunger levels, as well as in the Caribbean and parts of Central Asia. [...] A Chatham House report released last week notes that even the recent fall from peak prices is only temporary, as future supplies are likely to be constrained in part by a continuing lack of investment in agriculture.
Newsweek
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

KC misses UN World Food Programme event due to illness

Despite the absence of National Ambassador against Hunger KC Concepcion, Philippine Pizza, Inc. successfully turned over the amount of P1,299,909 to the United Nations World Food Programme last January 29 at the Mandarin Suites in Gateway Mall, Araneta Center. The amount was raised through donations made by Pizza Hut and Taco Bell customers around the country. Representing Philippine Pizza, Inc. was Chief Operating Officer Lars Peterson while WFP Country Director and Representative Stephen Anderson came to accept the donation. Cited as the biggest health dilemma facing mankind worldwide, hunger and malnutrition remain to be the United Nations top primary concern particularly to countries categorized under the so-called Third World bracket. Here in the Philippines, the UN's World Food Programme focuses its anti-hunger campaign in Mindanao.
GMA News TV
Hunger in the news
2 February 2009

Swaziland: Brighter future but the need is now

Goods rain, after years of drought, promises a better harvest for Swaziland in the next few months, but right now urban Swazis are struggling with soaring food prices in the shops. "It's one step forward, but one step backward," said Amy Dlamini, a food aid worker at a briefing of humanitarian officials last week by the Swaziland Vulnerability Assessment Committee. [...] The price of the staple starch, maize-meal, rose 25 percent from the end of 2007 to the end of 2008, enough to push the borderline vulnerable into making hard choices. "They usually opt to do without a meal," said Abdoulaye Balde, country representative for the World Food Programme (WFP). "Families that used to have two meals a day are having one." WFP and the UN Children's Agency, UNICEF, have announced shifts in aid distribution to target not just vulnerable children, who for several years have been fed at schools and neighbourhood care points, but also their families: in the past they had not always qualified for food relief.
IRIN News

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