“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.
Food Security and Nutrition
“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 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).
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.
“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).
At a ceremony marking World Food Day on Monday, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “called for more transparency on commodity markets to prevent sharp spikes in global food prices and deplored the scale of world hunger,” Agence France-Presse reports (Le Roux, 10/16). “FAO chose the theme of ‘Food Prices — From Crisis to Stability’ for this year’s day to shed light on the trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable,” the U.N. News Centre writes.
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on the international community to give rural women the same access to productive resources as men, noting the huge benefits that would ensue, from increased food production to a drop of 150 million in the number of the world’s hungry people,” the U.N. News Centre reports (10/14).
As the world’s population approaches seven billion, “experts say most of Africa — and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan — will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives,” the Associated Press/San Jose Mercury News reports. In the article, “Associated Press reporters on four continents examin[e] some of most distinctive examples” of how “population challenges vary dramatically around the world” (Crary et al., 10/15).