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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Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

UN official urges donors to release billions pledged for global food crisis

The United Nations urged donors Monday to release quickly billions of dollars in aid pledged at a food crisis summit last year after riots in developing countries over soaring prices. Jacques Diouf, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and other delegates to an international meeting on food security warned that the global economic crisis must not cause countries to neglect the nearly billion people in the world that the U.N. says do not get enough to eat. The forum, organized by Spain and the United Nations, was designed to be a follow up to a 180-nation summit in Rome in June. [...] Josette Shearan, executive director of the World Food Program, said developing countries dependent on agriculture run the risk of getting left out as the world focuses on tumbling stock markets, flagging economic growth and failing banks. As people in developed countries fixate on Wall Street and Main Street, she told the conference, "we must not forget places with no streets." Shearan identified four effects the financial crisis is already having on the hunger crisis: remittances to poor countries like Haiti are down, nations that depend on exports of farm goods are suffering because of the economic slowdown in buyer countries, investment in agricultural infrastructure is declining and the credit crunch is particularly painful for small-scale farmers who need to borrow money for seeds and other supplies.
Baltimore Sun / AP
Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

UN debates global food cost rise

Just because the issue of food prices has not been in the headlines recently it has not gone away. Although prices have fallen from the highs recorded during the unprecedented spike at the beginning of 2008, they have not fallen back to where they had been before the crisis began. And many of the factors that contributed to the rise then are still driving prices up. [...] A World Bank report on economic prospects for 2009 concluded that it is not inevitable that there will be shortages of food and oil, but that careful policies need to be followed. The author of the report, Andrew Burns, said aid needs to be better targeted. "Action is needed at the global level to discourage export bans of food grains, strengthen agencies like the World Food Programme, and improve information about and coordination of existing domestic grain reserves," he said.
BBC News
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Warning of 'food crunch' with prices poised to rise

The world faces "the real risk of a food crunch" if governments do not take immediate action to address the agricultural impact of climate change and water scarcity, according to an authoritative report out today. Chatham House, the London-based think-tank, suggests the recent fall in food prices is only temporary and that they are set to resume an upward trend once the world emerges from the current downturn. "There is therefore a real risk of a 'food crunch' at some point in the future, which would fall particularly hard on import-dependent countries and on poor people everywhere," the report states. "Food prices are poised to rise again." [...] Josette Sheeran, head of the UN's World Food Programme, said she was expecting that this year would be at least as "challenging" as last year, when the number of undernourished rose by 40m to 963m people. "We are not seeing an alleviation of the hunger pressure," she told the Financial Times.
Financial Times
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Government to release P500 million more for humanitarian assistance to Mindanao

The Philippines will release an additional P500 million for humanitarian assistance to Mindanao as the government and the European Union (EU) renewed commitments to provide support to families affected by violence in Central Mindanao and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). [...] Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo thanked the EU for its two grants totaling €6.5 million EURO for humanitarian relief. International organizations and NGOs such as the World Food Program (WFP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Organization are implementing the grants for Migration, and Oxfam GB.
Philstar
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Japan to provide 9.5 million dollars in rice aid to Philippines

Japan will extend 9.5 million dollars in rice aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the strife-torn southern Philippine region of Mindanao, a Japanese embassy statement said Monday. The aid will be in the form of 7,500 metric tons of rice, which will be distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) to people displaced by fighting between government troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Mindanao.
Earth Times / Deutsche Presse Agentur
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Kenya dissolves cereals board

The Kenyan government on Monday dissolved the National Cereals and Produce Board (NGPB) after carrying out an audit on its operations and structure. Agriculture Minister William Ruto said the board managers have been sent home and four new members of the board have been named. [...] Some 10 million Kenyans need food aid because of shortages and the government has appealed for emergency funds to deal with the matter. The UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Thursday it will increase food aid to 3.2 million hungry Kenyans who are facing food crisis. Last week, WFP spokeswoman Gabrielle Menezes told journalists in Nairobi that the UN agency plans to provide food aid for 3.2 million adults and infants and 850,000 school students. Menezes said the organization is currently carrying out an assessment in the affected parts to determine the extent of the famine and drought that has left about 10 million people or more starving.
Xinhua
Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

Kofi Annan warns against blinkers in crisis

The world's economic woes cannot be allowed to eclipse other key priorities, including protecting people from climate change and feeding the hungry, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday. In an interview ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Annan also condemned recent fighting in Gaza as "appalling" and said the piracy near Somalia served as another warning of the risks of letting simmering crises fester. Referring to estimates from humanitarian agencies that the global food crisis could push 100 million more people into hunger, Annan said: "One hundred million starving people are as urgent as some of the issues we are fully focused on."
Reuters
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

WFP Ramps Up Food Aid in Gaza

The World Food Program says many more people in Gaza are in need of food assistance now than before the three-week war with Israel began at the end of December. The U.N. agency says it will be providing food assistance to 365,000 non-refugee Palestinians, an increase of 100,000. [...] WFP Middle East Regional Director Daly Belgasmi was in Gaza just before the war began. He says the situation was dire then, but it is worse now. "Basic commodities remain in short supply and especially grain. The bakeries, they do not have sufficient wheat flour and the price of bread in many areas has doubled since the conflict began," said Belgasmi.
Voice of America News
Dossier: Food out of reach
26 January 2009

World must double food production by 2050: FAO chief

Global food production, already under strain from the credit crunch, must double by 2050 to head off mass hunger, the head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Monday. The food crisis pushed another 40 million people into hunger in 2008, Jacques Diouf said here at the start of a two-day international conference on food security. That brought the global number of undernourished people to 973 million last year out of a total population of around 6.5 billion, he said. [...] Ireland's Minister for Overseas Development Aid, Peter Power, said the hunger crisis had not been given the same level of attention as the fight against AIDS, the global financial crisis or climate change. "This silent tsunami is completely unacceptable," he said to applause from delegates. But Josette Shearan, the head of the UN World Food Program, the world's largest humanitarian agency, warned the world will only be able to produce enough food for everyone in 2050 if food security is made a top priority. "If we have to produce twice as much food and we are already in a situation where one out of every six people can't get access to adequate food, this compels us to put it at the top of the agenda," she said.
Agence France Presse (AFP)
Hunger in the news
26 January 2009

Zimbabwe Summit Begins as E.U. Imposes Fresh Sanctions

After southern African leaders held marathon talks on the Zimbabwe crisis that ended early Tuesday morning, the president of South Africa announced that Zimbabwe’s opposition had agreed to join a government with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. But an opposition spokesman said there was no such agreement. [...] Zimbabwe has plunged deeper into crisis amid massive unemployment and crippling hyperinflation, with half the population dependent on food aid.
New York Times

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