Two million North Koreans - nearly 10 percent of the population - may have
died during three years of famine in North Korea, AP quoted U.S. congressional
aides. Video footage brought back from the secretive communist country by a
congressional staff delegation showed sickly, emaciated children, some with
stick-thin bodies. To survive the persisting food shortages, North Koreans are
eating weeds, grasses and corn stalks that are mashed into powder and sometimes
mixed with flour to make noodles or cakes, AP said.
Over the past three years, the famine has killed an estimated 300,000 to
800,000 people annually, with the number of deaths peaking in 1997, said Mark
Kirk, one of the bipartisan delegation's four members. He said the figures came
from U.S. government sources, refugees and North Korean exiles.
Deaths were most likely from famine-related illnesses, like pneumonia,
tuberculosis, and diarrhea, rather than starvation itself, he said. The food
shortages were precipitated by two years of flooding followed by a drought last
year that pushed the reclusive Communist nation's inefficient collective farming
system to the brink of collapse. The famine has left North Korea's 23 million
people largely dependent on foreign aid.
Source: Nando Times
Children and adults are dying of famine every day at Ajiep in south Sudan's
Bahr al-Ghazal region where the situation is deteriorating despite the efforts
of aid organizations, AFP reported.
For more than a month some 10 children have been dying each week in the
nutritionalcenter run by Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without
Borders), which looks after more than 2,300 people. The overall mortality rate
at Ajiep is 15 dead per 10,000 people per day, whereas a rate of two per 10,000
is already considered disastrous by aid organizations, MSFsaid.
Ajiep lies just 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Wau, which is under
Sudanese army control. Ajiep, a very isolated place but near enough to Wau where
there was bitter fighting recently, draws people from far and wide seeking food
at a time when MSF admitted Friday in Brussels that the famine in southern Sudan
has reached the scale of the catastrophe in Ethiopia in 1984.
The situation is also dramatic in Wau due to the arrival of many villagers in
the government-held garrison town. Since May, 47,000 often very weak new
arrivals have been counted in Wau and 1,000 to 2,000 continue to flood in every
Source: Los Angeles Times
CANDABA, Philippines--This is the year the rains didn't come to Southeast
Asia. Sun and heat conquered the land, and the paddies dried up, turned into a
great expanse of cracked rust-red earth that yielded little but brown tufts of
"These fields you see," said Bienvenido Gatus, Candaba's mayor, his hand
sweeping toward the horizon, "should be under 5 feet of water this time of year.
Normally, we couldn't have even driven out here on this road. It'd be flooded
too." But the thirsty land around him was as lifeless as a desert. The
temperature stood at 100, and it was not yet noon.
The drought, now entering its second year, has already caused $20 billion in
damages and lost crops in the region, the Asian Development Bank says. It has
led to food shortages and several hundred deaths and is, environmentalists say,
the most severe dry spell to strike Southeast Asia in at least 40 years.
Singaporean Information Minister George Yeo Yong Boon says this period has
presented the region with its biggest calamity of the '90s.
First, there was the Asian economic crisis, which destroyed a decade of
progress. Then, bush fires in Indonesia choked the region with heavy blankets of
haze, causing economic losses estimated at $1.3 billion. And finally, the
drought took hold of the land and ravaged the livelihoods of millions.
The economic crisis, in which currencies were devalued and stock markets
plunged, forced millions of Asians who had moved to the cities in search of
employment to return to their rural homes. But once there, they found that the
drought had killed their chance to farm, for the current harvest season at
least. And the drought fueled inflation by pushing up food prices, which, in
turn, worsened the effects of the economic crisis.
In Vietnam, where 900 forest fires have flared this year, the drought has
devastated the coffee crop and caused $385 million in damage overall; 50% of
Vietnamese in rural areas are "basically unemployed" the Rural Development
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City had power blackouts in April and May because water
produces 70% of Vietnam's electricity and water supplies sank dangerously low.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, 600,000 residents have been affected by
water rationing, and many middle-class families haul buckets of water up to
More than 7.5 million people in 15 Indonesian provinces are facing food
shortages, reports World Vision, an international relief organization.
Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter, does not have enough water to
plant a second crop this year, officials at the Agricultural Ministry say. And
in the Philippines, when hungry tribespeople trekked out of the hills and into
the city of Cebu for food, the only help Pablo Garcia, the governor, could offer
was to tell them, "Eat less."
The furnace-like temperatures in Southeast Asia have led to an increase in
mosquitoes, which have spread diseases like dengue fever in Thailand. In some
Indonesian villages, aid workers say, every resident has malaria. Vietnam has
had to cope with an infestation of rats foraging for food, while the Philippines
has seen an advancing army of worms.
Source: Los Angeles Times
In the second half of the 20th century, famine no longer is a scourge of
nature but results from war, politics and other misdeeds of man.
Thanks to breakthroughs in science and agriculture, the world now produces
enough food to feed every man, woman and child on the planet. But hunger and
starvation persist. And in many places, they appear to be worsening.
Despite a worldwide glut of food, 18 million people die of starvation,
malnutrition and related causes every year, according to a newly released Johns
Hopkins University study. And more than 800 million people are chronically
undernourished, U.N. statistics show.
More often than not, the reasons for this cruel paradox--hunger in the midst
of global plenty--have little to do with natural causes. Of the millions who go
hungry every day, "we estimate that only 10% are victims of disaster," said
World Food Program Executive Director Catherine Bertini.
At last year's World Food Summit in Rome, a U.S. Department of Agriculture
report identified some of the forces that create hunger: war and civil strife,
misguided national policies, trade barriers such as crop subsidies, technology,
environmental degradation, poverty, and gender inequality.
The most dramatic moment at the Summit came when Cuba's aging revolutionary
Fidel Castro rose and asked the audience, "If the world has more than enough
food to feed all its people, why should even one person starve? Why should even
one child go hungry?
"Hunger, the inseparable companion of the poor, is the offspring of the
unequal distribution of the wealth and the injustices in this world. The rich do
not know hunger" said Castro. "What kind of cosmetic solutions are we going to
provide so that in 20 years from now there will only be 400 million instead of
800 million starving people?"
A near-record number of countries face food supply emergencies this year,
mainly because of the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon, the UN's Food
and Agriculture Organization warned. "The number of countries facing food
emergencies has increased to 37 compared to 31 toward the end of last year,
mainly due to the effects of El Niño," FAO said.
The Rome-based agency, in a January/February Food Outlook, painted a
grim picture of food supply woes stretching through Africa, Asia, Latin America,
parts of the former Soviet Union and including Iraq and North Korea. More than
800 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, the
Source: The London Times
Aid agencies say hundreds of thousands of people in more than a dozen
countries face imminent starvation.
Africa is worst affected, with about 350,000 people in southern Sudan at
risk. Thousands more have been left destitute by the floods in eastern Africa.
Along the Pacific coast of Latin America, storms and floods caused by El Niño
have made hundreds of thousands of people suffer. The same weather phenomenon
has brought drought to much of Southeast Asia, leading to widespread food
shortages in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.
Aid agencies are particularly concerned about starving children in southern
Sudan, where thousands of people have been made homeless by civil war. A drought
had worsened their plight, and many have been reduced to scrabbling for grass
seeds in the dust.
Farther south, famine has been caused by too much rain. The aid organization
Oxfam said 192,000 people needed food aid in northern Kenya. Another 100,000 are
at risk in Tanzania. In Zambia, 25,000 people needed emergency aid.
Oxfam has also given warnings that the coastal floods in Peru and Ecuador
have left tens of thousands homeless and hungry. Almost a million people have
been displaced in Colombia by terrorism and fighting, of whom about 10 percent
need emergency food aid.
The well-fed, affluent nations of the world are skimping on projects that
could help feed the globe's hungry, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate has said.
"Our privilege, our affluence … in the long run is ruinous," said scientist
Norman Borlaug, who won the Peace Prize in 1970 as father of the "Green
Revolution" of high-yield crops that thwarted a predicted famine in Asia.
About 800 million people around the world suffer hunger or malnutrition. In
affluent nations, however, a plentiful food supply has dulled interest in
agricultural research and in shortages elsewhere in the world, Borlaug said. He
also warned that political instability could result from hunger. Without
adequate food at home, millions of people "are going to move across national
borders, across deserts, and across oceans," Borlaug said.
Original article: Countdown.org
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