Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg on Tuesday “urged donors to give generously to assist Nicaragua and El Salvador cope with the aftermath of the recent floods, saying that the scale of the disaster is beyond what the small Central American nations can handle on their own,” the U.N. News Centre reports. According to the news service, approximately 1.2 million people in the region are affected by flooding, “[t]housands of homes have been damaged and hundreds of schools, roads and health facilities are closed,” and [w]ater-borne diseases are spreading …, she added.” Bragg also said food security was a concern, as thousands of acres of crops were destroyed, “‘making it increasingly difficult for people to get enough food for the next six months,’ she stated,” the news service notes (11/8).
Environment and Climate Change
“South Korea on Tuesday authorized the World Health Organization [WHO] to resume distribution of Seoul-funded medical aid to North Korea, amid growing calls for humanitarian assistance for malnourished North Korean children,” the New York Times reports (Sang-Hun, 11/8). “Seoul has authorized the WHO to release $6.94 million to equip hospitals in the North, said the official of the unification ministry, which handles cross-border ties,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Seoul decided to unblock its WHO funding ‘by taking into account its stance of maintaining its humanitarian aid for infants, children and other vulnerable people in the North, and the WHO’s request,’ [a South Korean] ministry official said on condition of anonymity,” AFP notes (11/8).
Kristi York Wooten, founder of SustenanceGroup.org and an advocate for fighting hunger and poverty, “canvas[sed] a panel of colleagues and experts for thoughts on how corporations and governments (and the rest of us) can make a difference to ensure a sustainable future,” and presents her findings in this post on the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog.
“Signaling South Korea may be attempting to cool tensions with its neighbor, Seoul has vowed to actively review sending humanitarian aid to North Korea through third channels,” CNN reports. South Korea’s Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik in a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday in New York “said he would consider the move amid growing concern over widespread malnutrition in North Korea,” according to the news service.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “reports heavy rains and flooding in parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are causing havoc among thousands of displaced Somalis in the region” and “flood-damaged roads are hampering relief efforts to thousands affected by the heavy rains,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 11/4). “UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told a press briefing in Geneva that the agency has distributed 4,500 assistance kits so far, which include plastic sheets, plastic buckets and soap,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/4). “In addition to providing emergency relief for floods, other U.N. agencies continue to increase their efforts to help Somalis who suffer from famine and insecurity,” VOA notes (11/4).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Rick Leach, president and CEO of World Food Program USA, examines the empowerment of small-scale farmers to become active participants in the global economy as a strategy to tackle world hunger. Leach provides examples of successful initiatives…
“The [U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization] FAO index of global food prices hit an 11-month low in October, reflecting sharp falls in grain, sugar and oils prices, the U.N. food agency said on Thursday, Reuters reports (11/3). “The agency attributes the decline to an improved supply outlook for a number of commodities and uncertainty about global economic prospects,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/3). “Nonetheless prices still remain generally higher than last year and very volatile, FAO said,” according to an FAO press release (11/3). On Tuesday, the World Bank Group released its Food Price Watch ahead of this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, stating that “[w]orld food prices remain high and are hitting the poorest countries hard,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (11/1).
“Millions of children and women of child-bearing age in North Korea face malnutrition which can leave them at higher risk of death or disease, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. UNICEF urged donors to fill a funding gap to prevent a “nutrition crisis” in the country, the news agency states (Nebehay, 11/1). According to Agence France-Presse, “UNICEF had asked for $20.4 million for 2011, but has received just $4.6 million” (11/1).
The VOA News audio program “Explorations” on Tuesday discussed international humanitarian aid in the Horn of Africa. The program features interviews with Kurt Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for the Horn of Africa and East Africa; Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy manager; and Nancy Lindborg, USAID’s assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
Several countries in West Africa, including Niger, Mauritania and Chad, are facing food insecurity crises “unless the international community acts now, the United Nations warned on Friday,” AlertNet reports. “Communities in the Sahel, which faces increasingly frequent droughts, have not had time to recover from the last food crisis,” which hit the region last year, the news service reports.