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
23 January 2009

WFP in race to feed 6.5 mln in southern Africa

The U.N's World Food Programme needs to secure food aid for about 6.5 million people in southern Africa by April, the bulk of them in Zimbabwe where the humanitarian situation has worsened, a WFP official said on Friday. Zimbabwe alone has about 5.5 million people needing food aid and is also battling a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 2,500 people in Africa's worst outbreak in almost a decade. The early part of the year is usually the peak hunger season in southern Africa, falling just before the start of the harvest season in April. Poor crops, dwindling food supplies and a shortfall in funding have made the situation worse, WFP said. WFP's southern Africa spokesman Richard Lee said the agency would target people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and children in school feeding programmes among others. "January, February, March every year is the hungriest time of the year in southern Africa because our main annual harvest ... starts coming in around April," Lee said. "So these three months are always the hardest because there are so many very poor, very vulnerable people in this region, and this is always the period when the most people struggle to find food for themselves and for their families.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
23 January 2009

WFP buys 552,000 tonnes of food in southern Africa

The U.N's World Food Programme said on Friday it had bought a record 552,000 metric tonnes of food in southern Africa in 2008, enough to provide nearly 2.75 million people with a full food basket for a year. The food agency spent $190 million last year buying cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, corn-soya blend, salt and sugar in seven countries across the region. The previous record was set in 2005, when WFP bought just over 500,000 metric tonnes in southern Africa for $100 million, illustrating the jump in the price of staple foods, it said. The bulk of the food was bought in South Africa, where WFP purchased 430,000 metric tonnes at a cost of $141 million. While most of the food was distributed to vulnerable people in southern Africa, WFP used substantial quantities to assist hungry people in emergency situations, including Somalia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Senegal.
Polity (South Africa) / Reuters
Hunger in the news
23 January 2009

Uganda and Burundi ready to send more troops to war-torn Somalia

Uganda and Burundi have put two battalions on standby to send to war-torn Somalia to fill the gap left by withdrawing Ethiopian troops, a Ugandan army spokesman said Friday. "There is no time framework under which we will send our soldiers there," Major Felix Kulayigye told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "We have a battalion ready, and it is just a matter of waiting for the logistics and then we will go." Ethiopia is pulling its forces out of Somalia after a two-year occupation that has failed to defeat Islamist forces, reported dpa. [...] The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Thursday that it might have to stop distributing food in Somalia if the safety of its staff cannot be guaranteed. Two WFP aid workers were shot in early January, adding to another five killed last year.
Trend News Agency / Deutsche Presse Agentur
Hunger in the news
23 January 2009

Japanese government sends 1 million dlrs. of relief goods to Palestinians in Gaza

The Japanese government on Friday sent 1 million dollars of relief goods to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with the aim of helping make temporary shelters for civilian victims of Israel''s military attacks on the strip, which destroyed thousands of homes, officials here said . It included 29,000 blankets, 20,000 sleeping mats and 8,000 plastic sheets and is to be sent to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Japan has already contributed about 10 million dollars of emergency aid to the reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip. Three million dollars of the emergency aid would go to the UN Children''s Fund, particularly for medical supplies, and 4 million dollars would be provided to the World Food Programme, the Foreign Ministry said.
Qatar News Agency
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

U.N.: Somalia killings threaten food aid

The United Nations will be forced to end food distribution in Somalia unless armed groups there stop attacking U.N. staff, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday. Humanitarian workers have repeatedly been targeted during a two-year-old rebellion by Islamist insurgents that has killed more than 16,000 civilians and uprooted one million others. Four WFP staff have been killed since August last year. Peter Goossens, WFP country director for Somalia, said the U.N. agency was distributing about 57,000 metric tonnes of food to southern and central regions that he said would feed some 2.5 million people until around mid-February. "That is it basically," Goossens told a news conference in neighbouring Kenya.
Reuters
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

George McGovern: Calling a Time Out

[...] Let me suggest a truly audacious hope for your administration [Mr. President]: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation? During that interval, we could work with the U.N. World Food Program, plus the overseas arms of the churches, synagogues, mosques and other volunteer agencies to provide a nutritious lunch every day for every school-age child in Afghanistan and other poor countries.
Washington Post
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Deputy Executive Director of WFP to visit Yemen

Deputy Executive Director at the UN World Food Program John M. Powell is due to arrive at Yemen next week. During the few-day visit, Powell will held talks with a number of senior Yemeni officials on the ways of boosting cooperation between the program and the concerned bodies in the country, the weekly 26 September reported on Thursday.
Yemen News Agency (SABA)
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Germany calls for humanitarian assistance in Sri Lanka

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Thursday for humanitarian assistance to be delivered to civilians cut off by government and rebel clashes in the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka, reproted dpa. Steinmeier expressed concern for more than 300,000 refugees on a coastal 30-kilometre strip of land, in the area held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebel group. "They have been completely cut off from international aid for more than 10 days," the German foreign minister said. "The most important thing now is to negotiate a ceasefire, to enable aid deliveries and medical care for the civilians in the disputed areas," he added. [...] International aid organizations were advised by the Sri Lankan government to leave the disputed north-east region in September 2008. The United Nations World Food Programme and the ICRC are the only two aid organizations operating in the region. Germany's ambassador to Colombo recently angered the Sri Lankan government with comments made at the funeral of a murdered newspaper editor.
Trend News Agency
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Ethiopian Main Cereal, Pulse Harvests Increased 9.5%

Ethiopia produced 9.5 percent more cereals and pulses during last year’s main harvest as improved rains, increased fertilizer use and fewer pests boosted output, two United Nations food agencies said. Production climbed to 17.4 million metric tons in the June to September rainy season, known as the meher, from 15.9 million tons a year earlier, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program said in a joint report on the UN’s Web site. The harvest follows the failure of the country’s short rainy season from February to March, known as the belg, when output dropped 51 percent to 748,608 tons, leaving at least 12.1 million people in need of emergency food relief.
Bloomberg
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

WFP demands staff safety in Somalia

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said it is seeking a secure operating environment from all local administrations and armed groups in South and Central Somalia to allow the agency to continue providing life-saving assistance in the wake of the killings of two WFP staff. "Our only goal in Somalia as an impartial international organisation is to alleviate the suffering of the Somali people," said WFP Deputy Chief Operating Officer Ramiro Lopes da Silva. "We cannot do that when our courageous staff are being targeted." Expressing outrage at the killings by gunmen on January 6 and 8, Lopes da Silva said WFP considered, but opted not to suspend food distributions in South and Central Somalia because this would only increase the suffering of innocent people during a possible power struggle after the pullout of Ethiopian forces.
Capital FM (Kenya)

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