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
31 January 2009

Not a friend in the world

BARE backs striped with the scabbed welts of savage beatings; a youngster sobbing in a hospital bed with cotton wool padded to burns on his thigh; skeletally thin men on a wooden boat, half-filled with seawater, some so weak they can hardly clamber aboard a rescueship. These are the Burmese Rohingya, pictured in photographs that have shocked the world. Human-rights groups now say hundreds of these stateless and desperate people are feared drowned, after the Burmese military beat many of them, and the Thai military detained hundreds of others, later pushing their rickety boats back out into international waters allegedly with no engines and inadequate food and water. [...] Rohingya in Burma are used as forced labour and denied ordinary human rights. Meanwhile, the World Food Program this week warned that six million Burmese now need food aid, and pointed to the districts along Burma's western border, including Arakan, where access is restricted and the distribution of aid consequently limited.
The Australian
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Drop in world wheat harvest forecast

The world's wheat harvest is likely to "fall sharply" in 2009-10 as farmers cut the acreage devoted to the cereal, the International Grains Council said yesterday in its first forecast for the incoming crop. The London intergovernmental body said the 2009-10 season wheat crop would fall to 650m tonnes - down about 5 per cent from a record 687m tonnes last season.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Aid trucks stranded at Egypt's Gaza border

More than two dozen trucks loaded with food, aid and goods intended for the Gaza Strip were stranded on the Egyptian side of the border Thursday, leaving truckers with little to do but sip tea and exude frustration. The backlog raises questions about a U.N. appeal announced Thursday which calls for $613 million to help Palestinians recover from Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza and whether new aid will have much effect until there is a deal to open the devastated territory's borders. "The ordinary people here in Gaza are not getting enough help and are not getting it quickly enough," said John Ging, the top U.N. official in Gaza. He blamed the aid shortage on the lack of access to Gaza and demanded that the border crossings be opened.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Sean Penn protests for world's poor

Oscar nominated actor Sean Penn has appeared in a United Nations video to call on leaders at the World Economic Forum to help the world's impoverished out of the financial crisis. The thirty second clip voiced by the 'Milk' star will be released as economic experts and leaders meet in Switzerland. The video has been released by the World Food Programme.
Sky News
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

Severe floods harass southern Philippines

For hundreds of thousands of residents in southern Philippines, hope for an auspicious new year was dampened by an unleashing flood that destroyed houses and farms and washed away their loved ones at the start of the year of ox. Over the past weeks, as many as 35 people have been killed and over 300,000 others affected the worst flood in years in northwestern Mindanao region. [...] Baicon Macaraya of the United Nation's World Food Program (UN-WFP) based in the southern Philippines said the flood was the worst in months and the UN organization has given over 600 tons of rice for more than 12,000 families displaced by the latest flash floods. "I've seen the impact. Some of them are staying only at covered courts, which are vulnerable to other diseases. Some of them have no homes to return to," Macaraya said. "It's not of the tons of food assistance but the lives of the people you reach. At least you are assured they will not worry of what they will eat," she added. Stephen Anderson, UN-WFP country director, said in other part of Mindanao, like in Iligan City in Lanao del Norte there are still evacuees who will continue stay in the evacuation centers due to continuous heavy rains in the area.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
30 January 2009

UN official urges free flow of border crossings into Gaza for relief materials

Stressing the uninterrupted opening of border crossings into the Gaza Strip, a UN official has said that meeting the immediate needs of Palestinians left traumatized and homeless by Israe’s three-week military offensive required the free flow of not just emergency food, but fuel, medicines and necessary building supplies. “From a logistic point of view... we are doing our best,” World Food Programme Regional Director for the Middle East Daly Belgasmi told a news briefing in New York on Thursday, stressing the need for a full opening of the crossing points, which Israel again briefly closed on Tuesday following a border bomb attack. “The crossing points are still an issue because it’s open today,it’s closed tomorrow, it’s open in the morning, it’s closed in the afternoon, and that has been a real challenge,” he said. “The food supply chain has collapsed.
Associated Press of Pakistan
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)

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