Fundamental Human Rights

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Posts Tagged ‘hunger’

We need more food, NOT soldiers

Posted by terres on February 24, 2009

In the north, Afghans fight hunger, not the Taliban

23 Feb 2009

By Jonathon Burch

(Reuters) SANG-I-KHEL, Afghanistan. The United States’ decision to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan will mean little to the people of northern Sang-i-Khel village whose fight is not against Taliban insurgents but against hunger.

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered 17,000 additional U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan to tackle an intensifying insurgency across the south and east of the country.

Yet in the relatively peaceful north, Afghans face a different struggle. Severe drought and soaring food prices have left hundreds of thousands of people facing a daily battle to survive the winter.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says some 280,000 Afghans in the north of the country are suffering from the drought, the worst in a decade, and are unable to meet their basic food needs.

Although not normally part of its mandate, the ICRC has distributed food with the Afghan Red Crescent to some of the worst affected areas, reflecting not only the scale of the crisis but also the lack of aid in this part of the country.

“The ICRC got involved because the need was so great. This is affecting thousands and thousands of people,” said Azim Noorani, an ICRC delegate in northern Afghanistan.

THE “RICH” GET RICHER

While Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, dependent on billions of dollars in foreign aid every year, poverty varies by region. Some areas are much better off than others.

Southern Helmand province, where more than two-thirds of the country’s illicit opium is produced and where the insurgency is strongest, is among the top three richest provinces by most indicators, according to a 2008 report by the United Nations.

Helmand has the highest rate of car ownership in the entire country.

Yet southern provinces such as Helmand get most of the aid despite their relative affluence and their role as the centre of Afghanistan’s estimated $3 billion illicit drugs trade industry.

The U.S. international development agency (USAID) is by far the biggest aid donor in Afghanistan and has pumped millions of dollars into Helmand. If Helmand were a country it would be the fifth largest recipient of USAID funding.

Helmand was pledged $403 per person in aid between 2007-2008 compared to $153 in Balkh, aid agencies said. Neighbouring Sari-i-Pol and Kunduz provinces fared much worse with $53 and $55 per person.

For the people in Sang-i-Khel and surrounding Chemtal district in Balkh province, hundreds of kilometres north of Helmand, life has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. Contact with the outside world is rare and help even rarer.

“We haven’t had any government assistance. They promised us they were going to give us food but they didn’t,” said Mohammad Rafi, 25, at an ICRC food distribution site in Sang-i-Khel.

Although the NATO-led military force has a presence in Balkh, international soldiers are rarely seen in Chemtal, said Rafi, and then only to inquire about security.

Rafi, along with hundreds of other Afghans from the surrounding area, came to Sang-i-Khel last week, some travelling for hours on foot, to collect emergency food rations of rice, beans, oil and tea, donated by the ICRC.

VICIOUS CIRCLE

The ICRC is distributing food to some 30,000 people across three northern provinces where last year’s harvest failed.

“Life is not good. There was nothing last year. No water. No wheat. If there is no water this year, I will have to leave and go to the city. I will become a migrant,” said Habibullah, 45, a farmer in Sang-i-Khel and father of 10.

His face weathered by a lifetime of hardship, Habibullah tells his story while waiting patiently to receive food handouts. Behind him lie fields where the furrows from last year’s ploughing are still visible as nothing grew there.

Afghans have survived drought and famines for centuries. But without long-term development, millions of Afghans are unlikely to break the cycle of poverty and could be susceptible to militant groups that exploit the discontent of poor Afghanis.

The people of Chemtal are locked in a vicious circle. No water means no harvest which means no seeds for planting the following year. Many have left to find work in the city or have either killed or sold what little livestock they had left.

“If we didn’t have this food (handout), I would die,” said Chari, 35, making a cutting gesture across his neck with his finger. (Editing by Megan Goldin). Copyright author or the news agency.

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Posted in Desertification, Food Crisis, opium trade, Severe drought, soaring food prices | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

World Poverty: 1 in 7 Hungry

Posted by terres on December 11, 2008

15 percent of world population, more than 1 in 7 people, are malnourished!

This year 963 million people, about 40 million more than in 2007, have been pushed into hunger primarily due to higher food prices, according to preliminary estimates published by FAO. Even more people could fall deeper into the abyss of poverty and hunger, warns FAO.

If the FAO figures are not underestimated, as the Moderators believe they are, then 15 percent of world population, more than 1 in 7 people, are malnourished!

UN officials say hunger kills a child every 6 seconds.

Undernourishment by country (% of population undernourished)

Vulnerability to hunger is reflected in this map of the global state of undernourishment. Undernourished people are unable to obtain the food they need from production or imports, either because it is not available or because they cannot afford it.  Source: FAO 2000 . Image may be subject to copyright.

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    Posted in higher food prices, Malnourished children, poverty, UN food program, world population | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    A Snapshot of Disasters

    Posted by terres on June 4, 2008

    Sri Lanka

    Floods triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 20 people and affected about a quarter of million people [1.25 percent of the population] in Sri Lanka.

    “We have requested specially canned food such as canned fish and water, clothes for the flood affected people as an urgent need,” said the coordinator for the National Disaster Management Centre.

    The forecast is for more rain in the coming days in the islaned lashed by southwest monsoon season, which runs from May to September.

    Ravaged by a 25-year war between the government forces and Tamil Tigers, which has killed at least 70,000 people, much of the country’s infrastructure has been severely neglected. Sri Lanka has a population of 20 million.

    Southern Germany

    In the Killertal valley [“killer valley”] in southern Germany three people drowned in heavy floods unleashed by severe storms. The floods damaged buildings and swept cars away.

    Eastern Ethiopia

    In eastern Ethiopia flash floods killed 25 people, a government spokesman said. In the eastern city of Jijiga the Wabe Shebelle River burst its banks and floods swept away several houses. Most of Ethiopia is affected by a drought that has causes severe crops failure.

    Chile


    A couple leave a flooded house in San Carlos town, south of Santiago May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Sergio Pereira/La discusion de Chillan/Handout

    In Chile heavy rains unleashed severe flooding killed nine people, forced 15,000 out of their homes, damaged 8,000 homes, collapsed roads and bridges and closed the world’s largest underground copper mine.

    Colombia


    A soldier stands in an area that was affected by a landslide in Medellin June 1, 2008. REUTERS/Fredy Amariles. image may be subject to copyright. See RTSF Fair Use Notice!

    Landslide buried about 20 homes in a poor hillside neighborhood in the northern Colombian city of Medellin killing 19 people, with at least eight more were missing, authorities said.

    Heave rain triggered flooding which collapsed bridges, blocked roads and damaged crops across the Andean country, forcing at least 100,000 people to abandon their homes.

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    Posted in children, china, climate change, disasters, environment, extreme rain, human rights, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »