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

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.
New Vision
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

Humanitarian Aid Fills in Gaza’s Tunnel Gap

[...] More than 37,000 tons of staple foodstuff and emergency medical supplies entered the Gaza Strip through one Israeli crossing from the time Israel began its military offensive until it declared a unilateral cease-fire on January 17. [...] The main problem of getting supplies into Gaza during the operation was not a lack of will or resources, but a limited capacity of passage, Robin Lodge, a spokesman for the World Food Programme told TML. “When the crisis began there were between 20 and 30 trucks going though Kerem Shalom a day, and now that’s up to 90 with a maximum capacity of 120, but it’s still not enough,” Lodge said while the operation was ongoing. The WFP provided basic rations that include wheat flour, vegetable oil, split peas and sugar to around 135,000 non-refugee Gazans, totaling more than 3,700 tons. Lodge said the WFP was already backlogged before the operation began, because of the blockade that did not allow it to bring in all its supplies. [...] The organization is planning a month-long distribution of ready-to-eat food, on top of its regular rations, which will include nutritious date-bars manufactured in Egypt.
The Media Line
Hunger in the news
22 January 2009

WFP halts food shipments to Somalia

The World Food Programme has halted its food shipments to Somalia in a high-stakes attempt to press local warlords to rein in violence that has killed two of its employees this month. Peter Goossens, Somalia country director of the United Nations agency, said the WFP would distribute the food left in its Somali warehouses but he warned that it would run out by early March if it was not replenished by fresh shipments. He said the WFP would only reopen its “pipeline” – a reference to the sea and land routes through which it ships food from the Kenyan port of Mombassa – when it had received security guarantees from local administrations, warlords and armed militias that control the areas where it operates. It is a high-risk move for the agency because the difficulty of pacifying highly fragmented armed groups is one reason why Somalia has become a lawless and destitute failed state since its central government collapsed in 1991.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
21 January 2009

Big Jump in Food Prices the Latest Suggestion That Inflation is Much Higher Than the Government Says

Prices for food in U.S. grocery stores jumped 6.6% last year - the biggest spike since 1980 - underscoring yet again that inflation is a much bigger problem than government officials, or most economists, say it will be. [...] The problems emanating from the big increase in food and commodities prices weren’t limited to the United States, either. In April, the leader of the United Nation’s World Food Programme warned that a "silent tsunami" of hunger was sweeping the globe because of soaring food prices, a situation that threatened the well-being of an estimated 20 million children in the world’s most poverty-stricken areas. At that time, food prices had risen 83% in the previous three years, and rice - a staple of daily diets throughout Asia - had actually doubled in price in the prior five weeks.
Money Morning
Hunger in the news
21 January 2009

Money can't buy love for Man City

Once again, those four lads from Liverpool were right: Money can't buy me love. Just ask Manchester City. Its world-record 100 million pound ($147 million; €111 million) bid for Kaka couldn't make the Brazilian midfielder part with his conscience and AC Milan. [...] In UNICEF's hands, the wad that City was offering for Kaka's sublime football skills would fund 20 million family-sized mosquito nets for sub-Saharan Africans, who lose 800,000 children under age five to malaria each year. Or buy roughly 588 million meals for the World Food Program. As one of its Ambassadors Against Hunger, Kaka lends his fame to the WFP's battle against the more than 10 million deaths from causes related to malnutrition each year.
Associated Press (AP) Fox Sports
Hunger in the news
21 January 2009

Ireland appoints global 'hunger envoy'

Ireland has appointed a veteran food-aid official to be its first "hunger envoy" to fight famine worldwide. Foreign Minister Micheal Martin says Kevin Farrell's appointment Wednesday reflects Ireland's own experience of suffering mass starvation in the mid-19th century. Ireland's Hunger Task Force had recommended creating the new position in a report last year to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The panel includes rock icon Bono and Farrell. Farrell's new job will be to spearhead Irish efforts to meet the U.N. goal of halving world malnutrition by 2015. Previously Farrell has overseen aid projects in Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia, Uganda and most recently as U.N. World Food Program director in Zimbabwe.
Associated Press (AP)

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