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
28 January 2009

UNICEF feels the pinch of the food price crisis

As Ethiopia struggled with high food prices and a lack of relief aid in 2008, the UN children's agency, UNICEF, initiated one of the biggest responses to fight severe malnutrition ever undertaken. [...] "The global demand for ready-to-use therapeutic food outstripped supply last year, which gives the sense of the scale of the need," explained Louis-Georges Arsenault, director of UNICEF's emergency programmes. The agency has had to intensify its nutritional interventions in 17 of the 27 countries identified as worst affected by the global food price crisis. This year UNICEF is asking for just over US$1 billion in its new global appeal, of which health and nutrition needs will take the biggest portion – 38 percent - to care for women and children in only 36 countries, "and UNICEF runs operations in 150 countries," Arsenault noted.
IRIN News
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

UN rushing aid to trapped civilians in Sri Lanka's Northern war zone

The UN and international aid agencies, that are rushing assistance to over 250,000 civilians trapped in war-ridden northern Sri Lanka, have asked all sides in the conflict to ensure that people are treated according to international humanitarian law. The recent surge in fighting between the government forces and the LTTE has prompted warnings from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials about the humanitarian impact of the conflict on the people of Sri Lanka. [...] Since early October, some 519 trucks have transported over 8,000 tons of food from the UN World Food Programme (WFP), as well as water and sanitation materials, school supplies, clothing and household goods supplied by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UNHCR.
The Hindu
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

UN says Congolese refugees fleeing to South Sudan

Thousands of Congolese civilians have fled across the border to South Sudan to escape rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday. About 2,000 left northeastern Congo for the Sudanese village of Lasu last week alone, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said. Thousands more Congolese are already living in South Sudan, having fled their villages for fear of attacks by the rebels Uganda-based rebel group, Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva. The population in South Sudan is unable to support all the refugees, so the World Food Program plans to deliver emergency rations to the area, Redmond said.
Associated Press (AP)
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

Thousands of Gazans remain homeless as UN again calls for aid access

Thousands of Gazans remain homeless and hospitals still have a large number of intensive care patients over a week after a ceasefire ended Israel's devastating three-week offensive, according to the latest United Nations update, which calls for immediate unhindered humanitarian access to the Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants. [...] All 10 UNRWA distribution centres are open, feeding 25,000 people per day, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed 95 tonnes of food aid to 993 families (nearly 6,000 people) in Gaza City and North Gaza.
Emirates News Agency (WAM)
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

UN officials urge actions as one billion people go hungry

Senior UN and international agency officials urged here on Monday actions against food crisis when almost one billion people in the world are going hungry. "With an expected increase of 40 million in 2008, the world today has reached 963 million people who are malnourished," said Jacques Diouf, Task Force vice-chairman and Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, at the opening of a Madrid meeting on Food Security for All. [...] "When the food crisis hit last year, the world came together in the largest emergency response to hunger and malnutrition in human history," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP). As the financial crisis hits the hungry even harder, she said, "we must sustain these unprecedented efforts to meet the urgent food and nutritional needs of the most vulnerable people, while promoting small-holder farmers and agriculture."
Xinhua
Dossier: Food out of reach
27 January 2009

Nations turn to barter deals to secure food

Countries struggling to secure credit have resorted to barter and secretive government-to-government deals to buy food, with some contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In a striking example of how the global financial crisis and high food prices have strained the finances of poor and middle-income nations, countries including Russia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Morocco say they have signed or are discussing inter-government and barter deals to import commodities from rice to vegetable oil. [...] Josette Sheeran, head of the UN's World Food Programme, said senior government officials, including heads of state, had told the WFP they were facing "difficulties" obtaining credit to purchase food. "This could be a big problem," she told the Financial Times.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

At a Border Crossing Aid for Gaza Goes Nowhere

France sent technical equipment to help Gazans draw water from the ground. The Swiss sent blankets and plastic tarps. Mercy Corps, a relief agency, sent 12 truckloads of food. And on Tuesday all of it, including dozens of other trucks carrying sugar, rice, flour, juice and baby formula, sat in the hot sun here going nowhere. This normally quiet commercial crossing between Egypt and Israel has been turned into a parking lot of stalled, humanitarian aid, and in the city of El Arish there are even greater quantities of food, clothing and essential supplies, sitting, waiting and baking in the sun.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

Kenya officials sacked as food crisis grows

Kenya has sacked a dozen senior agricultural officials amid a national food crisis that has left as many as 10m people facing imminent hunger. The dismissal of senior managers at Kenya’s cereals board came 10 days after President Mwai Kibaki said the country was facing a “national disaster” and called on international donors to help plug a forecast mid-year maize deficit of 190,000 tonnes. [...] The World Food Programme is currently feeding 1.2m people in Kenya but a spokesperson said it was expecting to be feeding 3.2m by March. WFP is still carrying out its own assessment of exactly how many people need assistance.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
27 January 2009

Liberia declares state of emergency as caterpillar plague wrecks crops

Liberia has declared a state of emergency over a plague of caterpillars that has destroyed plants and crops and contaminated water supplies, threatening an already fragile food situation. Tens of millions of marching caterpillars have invaded at least 80 towns and villages in central and northern Liberia, preventing some farmers from reaching their fields and causing others to flee their homes. The inch-long pests – the caterpillar life stage of the noctuid moth – have spread to neighbouring Guinea and are threatening Sierra Leone, which has set up monitoring teams along its border.
The Guardian
Dossier: Food out of reach
27 January 2009

Nations pledge €5.5bn to alleviate hunger

More than a dozen countries on Tuesday committed €5.5bn over the next five years as part of a fresh initiative to alleviate global hunger and help impoverished farmers boost production of agricultural commodities. The commitments came after a United Nations conference on food security in Madrid, at which senior UN officials warned that the current combination of the financial crisis and high food prices would increase malnutrition levels. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said that the world worked hard to provide food aid to those who needed it last year. "I expect we will need to work harder in 2009, this year of recession," Mr Ban said in Madrid.
Financial Times

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