“As South Korean President Lee Myung-bak continued his state visit to the United States on Friday, a group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) wants the Obama administration to explain what they call unconscionable delays in deciding whether to resume U.S. food assistance to North Korea,” Reuters reports. “Rising global commodities prices coupled with summer floods and typhoons have compounded the emergency this year, and the United Nations estimated in March that more than six million North Koreans urgently need food help,” the news agency writes.
Environment and Climate Change
“During the past 24 hours, cholera has claimed the lives of nearly 200 women and children in famine-stricken Somalia,” a Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Sunday. “More than 800 children suffering from the disease in refugee camps were reportedly transported to medical centers in south Mogadishu,” the news service writes, adding, “As the number of sick is on the rise, doctors are facing a shortage of medicine.” Press TV notes, “According to the United Nations, drought, high food prices and fighting in Somalia have increased the number of those in need of humanitarian assistance across the Horn of Africa to 13.3 million” (10/16).
Security issues and torrential rains are hampering relief efforts aimed at fighting severe malnutrition and disease in the Horn of Africa, the Guardian reports. Last week, two workers with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were kidnapped, allegedly by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, prompting the group to evacuate some of its staff from two of three refugee camps on the border of Somalia and Kenya, according to the newspaper.
Though emergency humanitarian assistance has helped keep people alive in the Horn of Africa, “this effort is not sustainable,” David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada, writes in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. “Trucking in water and flying in food and medicine save lives, but we must rethink the way aid agencies operate in the region. We need to blend the immediate life-saving effort with creative longer-term community development … and involve everyone affected by the crisis. Farmers, herders, refugees and displaced people, local communities and government officials have valuable insights that a massive humanitarian response all too often overlooks,” he continues.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “on Tuesday announced a $2.5 million grant to Mercy Corps to fund relief and longer-term recovery efforts in drought-stricken Wajir County on Kenya’s border with Somalia,” representing “more than 40 percent of the $5.4 million in private funds that Mercy Corps has raised to date for Horn of Africa relief efforts,” the Seattle Times reports. The Gates Foundation on Tuesday also “announced a $1.6 million grant to International Medical Corps to provide emergency food assistance and to help improve health, hygiene and sanitation in northern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia,” the newspaper writes (Bernton, 10/18).
Environmental health experts, scientists and government officials attending a conference in London sponsored by the British Medical Journal on Monday “issued a statement warning that climate change could not only bring a global health catastrophe but could threaten global stability and security as well, a journal release said,” UPI.com reports (10/17).
“The United Nations and the United States Peace Corps signed an agreement today to cooperate in combating worldwide hunger by increasing food security in the 76 countries where the more than 8,600 U.S. volunteers currently work,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agreement, signed by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN World Food Programme (WFP) at their Rome headquarters, builds on years of cooperation with the 50-year-old U.S. organization,” the news service writes.
Though the humanitarian response to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa has lessened the suffering of thousands of people in the region, “more resources are needed to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in famine-hit areas of Somalia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said” in a progress report released Thursday, the U.N. News Centre reports. Releasing the report, Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, “called for the scaling up of integrated interventions in health, nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, education and child protection,” according to the news service (10/20).
“Wealthier countries need to put aside politics to help millions of North Koreans going hungry from food shortages, the U.N.’s top relief official said Friday, renewing an appeal for assistance that has largely gone unmet,” the Associated Press/CBS News reports. Following a five-day visit to North Korea, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos “said millions of North Koreans, particularly children, mothers and pregnant women, need help,” as they do not have access to protein- and nutrient-rich foods, according to the AP.
Speaking at a World Food Programme (WFP) awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. “is increasing food aid to drought-hit and strife-torn Horn of Africa nations where millions of people are at risk of starvation and malnutrition,” Reuters reports (Allen, 10/24).