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
30 January 2009

UN appeals for $613 million to help 1.4 million people in Gaza to recover after Israeli offensive

The United Nations today launched an appeal for $613 million to help people affected by Israel's three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip, which killed some 1,300 Palestinians, injured more than 5,300, 34 per cent of them children, and caused widespread damage and destruction. The appeal will cover requirements of the UN and other aid agencies for the next six to nine months and cover critical areas such as food, water, sanitation, health care and shelter, as well as support basic services, such as education, according to the UN news center. [...] UN agencies are now helping to feed some 1.3 million of Gaza's 1.42 million residents, with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) taking care of the 900,000 refugees there and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) tending to the others. "From a logistic point of view... we are doing our best," WFP Regional Director Daly Belgasmi told a news briefing in New York, stressing the need for a full opening of the crossing points, which Israel again briefly closed on Tuesday following a border bomb attack.
Emirates News Agency (WAM)
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Zimbabwe opposition will join unity government

Zimbabwe's main opposition will join a unity government early next month, the party's leader said Friday, offering hope country's leaders can turn to addressing a humanitarian catastrophe. Earlier this week, Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change had rejected a recommendation from regional leaders that the coalition agreement stalled since September be implemented in early February. The reversal came amid speculation President Robert Mugabe would form a government on his own if the opposition did not come aboard. [...] The collapse of Zimbabwe's health and sanitation infrastructure under the weight of hyperinflation has made it difficult to contain cholera. Humanitarian groups also are battling a hunger crisis. The U.N. food program said Thursday that 7 million Zimbabweans _ 80 percent of the population by some estimates _ need food aid.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Ethiopia says 4.9 million people need food aid

Ethiopia said on Friday that 4.9 million of its people will need emergency food aid in the first six months of 2009 due to drought and appealed for $390 million from donors to pay for it. That figure represents a fall of 1.5 million from last October, when the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said 6.4 million people needed urgent help to stave off hunger. Friday's statement said poor rains and high global commodity prices had triggered food insecurity in the huge Horn of Afric country last year, but lamented that there had been only a "limited response" from the international community. Many Africans fear the global credit crunch will mean rich nations send less aid to the world's poorest continent.
Washington Post / Reuters
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

US envoy backs UN's 'responsibility' to civilians

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, in her first appearance before the U.N. Security Council, signaled Thursday that the new U.S. administration feels a "responsibility" to sometimes take on nations that abuse their own citizens. "As agreed to by member states in 2005 and by the Security Council in 2006, the international community has a responsibility to protect civilian populations from violations of international humanitarian law when states are unwilling or unable to do so," Rice told the council in a closed-door session. [...] During the past year the U.N. has debated whether it has a responsibility to protect civilians in such cases. Last May the council discussed a proposal by France to authorize the U.N. to enter Myanmar and deliver aid without waiting for approval from the nation's ruling military junta. Several countries, citing issues of sovereignty, blocked the idea.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

WFP cuts cereal rations for hungry Zimbabweans

The U.N.'s World Food Program will halve cereal rations for Zimbabweans next month because of an increase in the number of people in need of food aid, a spokesman said. Zimbabwe is facing chronic food shortages and seven million people, or half the population, will need handouts in February and March, according to the WFP. The agency opted to cut the monthly cereal ration to 5 kg (11 lb) per person to feed more people. "The main reason is that we are increasing the number of beneficiaries to 5.1 million in February, and this is substantially more than we had originally planned for," Richard Lee, WFP's spokesman for southern Africa, told Reuters. "We simply don't have the resources to provide a full ration to all 5.1 million people."
Reuters
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Zimbabwe leaders form fragile coalition

After months of resisting intense pressure from leaders across southern Africa, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, announced Friday that he would do as they have insisted and join a coalition government as prime minister with his nemesis, President Robert Mugabe. [...] Diplomats and opposition officials who have spoken with Tsvangirai said he felt a sense of urgency about joining the government because of the extremity of human suffering in the nation. It worsens by the day. A cholera epidemic is still out of control. More than 60,000 people have contracted the disease and more than 3,100 have died since August. And the economic crisis has worsened so suddenly and sharply that the number of people needing food aid in the next two months has risen to seven million from five million of the country's 12 million people, the United Nations World Food Program said Thursday. The UN agency is cutting its monthly rations - already insufficient - in half to 5 kilograms, or 11 pounds, of corn a person, hoping the hungry can scavenge enough in wild fruits and other foods to survive until the next harvest.
International Herald Tribune
Hunger in the news
29 January 2009

Zimbabwe: UN to halve rations

The United Nations is to halve the food ration to millions of Zimbabweans, bringing it below what will keep an adult alive, as the numbers of people dependent on aid rises sharply and donations from foreign governments fall well short of demand. The World Food Programme is to cut the core maize ration in February from 10kg to 5kg a month – or just 600 calories a day – for 7 million Zimbabweans, about 70% of the people left in the country. The recommended ration is 12kg a month. As a result of the cuts, many Zimbabweans will be fortunate to eat once a day. [...] The WFP says it has cut the ration to meet increased demand and cope with a shortfall in donations. It says it requires another $65m to keep feeding Zimbabweans until the end of March. [...] Richard Lee, a WFP spokesman in southern Africa, said that while the calorie count would be boosted by a ration of beans and vegetable oil, recipients of food aid would now have to find additional means to stay alive.
The Guardian
Hunger in the news
29 January 2009

Interview: David Parra, World Food Programme Officer, Colombia

Colombia has suffered through a decades-long conflict between the government and anti-government insurgent groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The anti-government forces are heavily involved in drug trafficking. Children are the hardest hit by the conflict and poverty in the country. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) runs school feeding programs to help the children of Colombia. David Parra, a WFP officer in Colombia, discusses these life-changing programs for children.
BlogCritics Magazine
Hunger in the news
29 January 2009

WHO: Over 3,000 die as cholera crisis in Zimbabwe worsens

The death toll from Zimbabwe's worst ever cholera epidemic has climbed to over 3,000, with more than 57,000 infected by the water-borne disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Wednesday. [...] Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that around 500,000 Zimbabweans are set to benefit from its so-called "Safety Net" activities that support school-based feeding, people affected by HIV/AIDS and mobile and vulnerable populations.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
29 January 2009

Zimbabwe Teachers Can’t Afford to Report for Work

Thousands of Zimbabwean teachers are failing to return for the re-opening of the southern African nation’s schools this month because they can’t afford the commute to work, union leaders said. [...] At least 6.9 million Zimbabweans, or more than half of the population, need emergency food rations, Richard Lee, a spokesman for the UN World Food Programme, said today in a telephone interview from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Bloomberg

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