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
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)
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Somalia: UN food agency wants guarantees

The UN's food agency said Thursday it needed guarantees on its employees' security in Somalia, hinting it could soon halt deliveries in some areas. Four World Food Programme (WFP) employees have been killed in the war-torn Horn of Africa country since August last year, two of them this month. "We will not stop food distribution yet but (sic). We will distribute all the food that we currently have inside Somalia" or on its way there, WFP chief Peter Goossens said at a press conference in Nairobi. The WFP said it was in the process of delivering 57,000 metric tonnes of food in southern and central Somalia, enough to feed 2.5 million people for one to two months.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

UN to embark on humanitarian assessment in post-conflict Gaza

The top United Nations humanitarian official arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday to begin an assessment of the needs on the ground in the Gaza Strip following the three-week Israeli military offensive that came to a halt just a few days ago, UN officials announced here. UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes will lead a humanitarian needs assessment team into Gaza on Thursday, together with the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, the officials said. [...] The World Food Program (WFP) is trying to help by delivering flour to bakeries, and WFP-contracted bakeries are now working to produce 5,000 three-kilogram bread parcels per day. WFP also reports that a first shipment of 10 tons of nutritious date bars --supplied by Egypt under WFP's Operation Lifeline Gaza -- made it into Gaza Tuesday. At the same time, the UN agency remains concerned by security constraints, which are limiting access to its warehouses. It does not have access currently to some 520 tons of food, or 12 percent of WFP's current stocks in Gaza.
Xinhua
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

A Stimulus Package for the World

WITHIN his first 100 days, President Obama will attend his inaugural global summit meeting: an April gathering of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations in London. The president, with bipartisan backing in Congress, should send an audacious signal of hope. Starting with the United States, Mr. Obama should call for each developed country to pledge 0.7 percent of its stimulus package to a vulnerability fund for assisting developing countries that can’t afford bailouts and deficits. [...] Japan has already pledged to help the World Bank recapitalize banks in poor countries. Australia and Russia have supported a food vulnerability fund that we created last year. Canada has been increasing its aid; the European Commission has been debating over contributing more assistance. Last year, Saudi Arabia gave an emergency $500 million grant to the World Food Program.
New York Times
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Gaza: Humanitarian situation

Aid agencies are battling to meet the urgent needs of tens and thousands of displaced, homeless and injured people in Gaza, as well as to get damaged water, power and sewage infrastructure back even to their ailing pre-war levels. That stage alone will cost "hundreds of millions" of dollars, while long term reconstruction will run into "billions," the UN has said. Two separate Palestinian surveys have put the cost of the damage just under $2bn. [...] Even before the Israeli assault, aid agencies were warning of malnutrition in Gaza, as the aid-reliant population struggled to afford and access dairy, meat and fresh vegetable products to supplement the bread, rice and oil that form the backbone of humanitarian aid. Although food aid has entered the strip during and since the fighting, security problems hampered distribution, while damage to tunnels under the Egyptian border and agricultural fields have pushed up prices for other goods. [...] UN food agency the World Food Programme (WFP) says the price of chicken increased 23% percent; the price of wheat flour by 45%; the price of peppers by 100% and the price of tomatoes by 500%.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Govt launches famine strategy

A joint operation by the Government and the World Food Programme to avert famine in Karamoja and the neighbouring districts is underway, the state minister for disaster preparedness has announced. Musa Ecweru said the operation would cost about $64m to provide relief assistance to about 970,000 people in need of food. Addressing journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala on Friday, Ecweru said the operation would last up to October when the first harvests are expected in the region. [...] “Acute malnutrition is close to emergency levels and we have 10 months to go until the next harvest,” said Ecweru. He said the operation would be carried out in liaison with the local governments in the affected areas. The WFP country representative, Stanlake Samkange, said the operation was also aimed at ensuring that similar food crises do not occur in the future. “That is why we need to place emphasis on medium and longer term solutions to hunger. We want people in Karamoja to become net producers, so that we can actually buy food from them for emergencies elsewhere in future,” said Samkange.
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