Food aid needed in Nepal for thousands hit by flooding and landslides

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14 October 2009 – Flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rainfall in the middle and far western regions of Nepal this month have killed 58 people, displaced an estimated 2,600 families and affected over 18,000 more, the United Nations reported today.

“Those affected are in need of food aid,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. “Access to clean drinking water has also become a problem because of the contamination of water sources. In some areas, it is estimated that between 15 and 40 per cent of the rice crop has been destroyed and a considerable number of livestock lost.”

Nearly five million children in Horn of Africa now hungry

14 October 2009 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) sounded the alarm on the worsening humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa today, noting that nearly five million children under the age of five in the region are now hungry.

This marks an increase of 1 million since May, while the number of people in need of emergency assistance in the region has also risen, climbing from 20 million earlier this year to 24 million, the agency said.

During 2009, some 500,000 under-five children will suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.

The food insecurity has been in large part triggered by prolonged drought resulting in less than half the normal rainfall, which has lead to enormous losses in livestock and surging food prices.

UN calls for greater efforts to prevent millions of children dying of diarrhoea annually

14 October 2009 – United Nations agencies today called for a renewed push to save the lives of millions of children in poor countries who die each year from diarrhoea.

“It is a tragedy that diarrhoea, which is little more than an inconvenience in the developed world, kills an estimated 1.5 million children each year,” said UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman.

“Inexpensive and effective treatments for diarrhoea exist, but in developing countries only 39 per cent of children with diarrhoea receive the recommended treatment,” added Ms. Veneman at the joint launch with the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new report on the issue.

Economic crisis exposes fragile global food system

14 October 2009 – The economic turmoil sweeping the globe has lead to a sharp spike in hunger affecting the world’s poorest, uncovering a fragile global food system requiring urgent reform, according to a report issued today by two United Nations agencies.

The combination of the food and economic crises have pushed more people into hunger, with the number of hungry expected to top 1 billion this year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The agency, along with the World Food Programme (WFP), said in their “The State of Food Insecurity” report that nearly all of the world’s undernourished live in developing countries.

Even before the onset of the current crises, the number of hungry has been growing slowly and steadily over the past decade, it noted.

Humanitarian situation continues to crumble in northern Yemen

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13 October 2009 – With fighting between Government forces and rebels showing no signs of letting up and stores having run out of basic supplies in northern Yemen, the United Nations refugee agency said today that the humanitarian situation in the area continues to deteriorate.

Street battles continue to rage in Sa’ada city, while electricity is only available for six hours a day and water just twice a week, Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

Some 150,000 people have been driven from their homes by fighting between Government forces and Al Houthi rebels that first erupted in 2004.

Food insecurity continues across parts of Ethiopia

13 October 2009 – Food security continues to plague many areas of Ethiopia because of drought, according to the latest joint report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Most of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNP), northern Afar, parts of Amhara, eastern Oromiya and Gambella regions are highly food insecure, while the Somali Region and the southern Oromiya lowlands are extremely food insecure.

In the lowlands of SNNP and Oromiya, seasonal rainfall has been poor, leading to delays in planting and wilting of crops, the report says. Similar conditions are being reported in parts of Tigray and Amhara and in most districts of Afar and Gambella regions.

Food shortfalls head list of humanitarian crises in Kenya

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13 October 2009 – Severe food shortages continue to affect millions of hungry people in Kenya while refugees pour in from neighbouring countries and United Nations agencies brace the population for expected floods, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

Food insecurity, largely due to prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa region, has led to the World Food Programme (WFP) putting some 3.8 million people in Kenya on emergency food aid assistance, and another 1.5 million children on a school feeding programme.

The availability of food over the next three months is expected to remain uncertain despite the forecast of heavy rains related to El Niño weather patterns, according to OCHA.

Save the forests, help save the planet

9 October 2009 – With deforestation accounting for over 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, a senior United Nations agricultural official today called for preservation of an ecosystem that can play a major role in fighting global warming.

“Damage to forest ecosystems is affecting everyone in the world through climate change, water scarcity and the loss of biological diversity,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Director General of Forestry Jan Heino said ahead of a meeting later this month of World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Food aid from UN agency reaches 1.3 million Somalis

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9 October 2009 – Aid from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reached 1.3 million Somalis in the war-wracked Horn of Africa nation last month, but funding shortfalls prevented the agency from assisting millions more in need, it was announced today.

Over 22,000 metric tons of food were distributed, but with less than half of funds needed received, WFP was forced to scale back its operations, making it unable to reach all 3 million Somalis with 48,000 metric tons of food than the agency had hoped to.

WFP urgently needs a nearly $200 million influx to allow it to feed 3.3 million Somalis through next April.

Boom in international trade fails workers in developing world

12 October 2009 – The surge in world trade in recent years has failed to improve the working conditions and living standards for the majority of workers in poor countries, according to a new United Nations labour agency study launched today.

A high incidence of informal employment has curbed any benefit workers in the developing world have felt from the boom in trade, the joint International Labour Organization (ILO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) study found.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy noted that trade “has contributed to growth and development worldwide, but this has not automatically translated in an improvement in the quality of employment.”

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