Connect with us

News

UN warns 345 million people face starvation worldwide

Published

on

An African child at a WFP programme. Photo credit : WFP/Besunda Niema Abdelmageed

The United Nations food chief has warned the world is facing “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude” with up to 345 million people marching towards starvation – and 70 million pushed closer to starvation by the war in Ukraine.David Beasley, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, told the UN Security Council on Thursday the 345 million people facing acute food insecurity in the 82 countries where the agency operates is more than twice the number of acutely food insecure people before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

He said it is incredibly troubling that 50 million of those people in 45 countries are suffering from very acute malnutrition and are “knocking on famine’s door”.

“What was a wave of hunger is now a tsunami of hunger,” he said, pointing to rising conflict, the pandemic’s economic ripple effects, climate change, rising fuel prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since Russia invaded its neighbour on February 24, Beasley said, soaring food, fuel and fertiliser costs have driven 70 million people closer to starvation.Despite an agreement in July, allowing Ukrainian grain to be shipped from three Black Sea ports, blockaded by Russia, and continuing efforts to get Russian fertiliser back to global markets, “there is a real and dangerous risk of multiple famines this year”, he said.

“And in 2023, the current food price crisis could develop into a food availability crisis if we don’t act.”

‘All hands on deck’

The Security Council was focusing on conflict-induced food insecurity and the risk of famine in Ethiopia, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. But Beasley and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths also warned about the food crisis in Somalia, which they both recently visited, and Griffiths also put Afghanistan high on the list.

“Famine will happen in Somalia. Be sure it won’t be the only place either,” Griffiths said.

He cited recent assessments that identified “hundreds of thousands of people facing catastrophic levels of hunger” – meaning they are at the worst famine level.

Beasley recalled his warning to the council in April 2020 “that we were then facing famine, starvation of biblical proportions”. He said then the world “stepped up with funding and tremendous response, and we averted catastrophe”.

“We are on the edge once again, even worse, and we must do all that we can – all hands on deck with every fibre of our bodies,” he said. “The hungry people of the world are counting on us and … we must not let them down.”

Effects of conflict and violence

Griffiths said the widespread and increasing food insecurity is a result of the direct and indirect effect of conflict and violence that kills and injures civilians, forces families to flee the land they depend on for income and food, and leads to economic decline and rising prices for food they cannot afford.After more than seven years of war In Yemen, he said, “some 19 million people – six out of 10 – are acutely food insecure, an estimated 160,000 people are facing catastrophe, and 538,000 children are severely malnourished”.

Beasley said the Ukraine war is stoking inflation in Yemen, which is 90 percent reliant on food imports. The World Food Programme hopes to provide aid to about 18 million people, but its costs have risen 30 percent this year to $2.6bn.As a result, it has been forced to cut back so Yemenis this month are getting only two-thirds of their previous rations, he said.

Beasley said South Sudan faces “its highest rate of acute hunger since its independence in 2011” from Sudan. He said 7.7 million people, more than 60 percent of the population, are “facing critical or worse levels of food insecurity”.

Without a political solution to escalating violence and substantial spending on aid, “many people in South Sudan will die”, he warned.‘Exhausted families over the edge’ In northern Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, more than 13 million people need life-saving food, Griffiths said. He pointed to a survey in Tigray in June that found 89 percent of people food insecure, “more than half of them severely so”.

Beasley said a truce in March enabled WFP and its partners to reach almost five million people in the Tigray area, but resumed fighting in recent weeks “threatens to push many hungry, exhausted families over the edge”.

In northeast Nigeria, the UN projects that 4.1 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity, including 588,000 who faced emergency levels between June and August, Griffiths said. Almost half of those people could not be reached because of insecurity, and the UN fears “some people may already be at the level of catastrophe and already dying”.

Griffiths urged the Security Council to “leave no stone unturned” in trying to end these conflicts, and to step up financing for humanitarian operations, saying UN appeals in those four countries are all “well below half of the required funding”. – Al Jazeera



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

State FM calls for report from IR, admits difficulty in punishing racketeers

Published

on

Sugar tax scam: National Audit Office estimates Rs 16.7 bn revenue loss

By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies Ranjith Siyambalapitiya has asked for a report from the Inland revenue Department on the income tax returns of sugar importers who have allegedly benefited from an unprecedented reduction of duty on a kilo of sugar on 13 Oct., 2020.

The gazette pertaining to the duty reduction (Special Commodity Levy) from Rs 50 per kilo to 25 cents was issued by the Finance Ministry during the tenure of the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who also served as the Finance Minister. S. R. Attygalle served as the Finance Secretary at the time.

State Minister Siyambalapitiya revealed his decision to call for a report during a visit to the Inland Revenue head office on Thursday (22).The Ministry spokesperson quoted Minister Siyambalapitiya as having told Inland Revenue Department officials that losses caused by the duty reduction couldn’t be recovered by re-imposing the duty even if a fraud had been perpetrated in the process. The State Minister was further quoted as having said that it wouldn’t be an easy task to punish those responsible for

the duty reduction. Those responsible could claim that their intention was to bring down the price of sugar, the SLFPer has said.The State Minister has intervened in the sugar tax scam in the wake of the National Audit Office recommending the recovery of revenue losses from those sugar importers. The National Audit Office has conducted a special audit to examine whether consumers benefited at all as a result of the sharp reduction of sugar tax.

The special audit revealed that within four months of reducing the tax (14th October 2020 to 8th February 2021) the cash-strapped government was deprived of tax revenue of a whopping Rs. 16.763 Billion.The audit investigation named one of the main sugar importers recorded a massive profit of some 1,222%.

The report underscored that the tax reduction did not provide relief to the people, but greatly benefited the importers and traders.The former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance SLPP MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa declared that consumers didn’t benefit from the duty reduction.

Continue Reading

News

Combination of ill-timed decisions prevented Lanka recover from pandemic shock

Published

on

The country has lost several hundred thousand jobs to Covid-19. The impact of the agrochemical ban on agriculture, the mismanagement of the exchange rate, a highly accommodative monetary policy, and the use of foreign exchange reserves for debt repayment thwarted the country’s ability to recover from the initial shock of COVID-19, an ILO study titled, ‘The labour market implications of Sri Lanka’s multiple crises,‘ has revealed.

“These policy decisions generated multiple crises which impacted on businesses, workers, and their families, manifesting in shortages of essential consumer goods including food, fuel, power, raw materials, and capital equipment on the one hand, and the disruption of key public services, such as education and health, on the other. The fiscal bind and looming debt crisis have also left Sri Lanka very little room to manoeuvre. The economic crises have, in turn, generated political instability and further constrained timely decision-making about how to deal with the crisis,” the ILO report said.

The multiple crises have intensified long-standing worrisome features of the labour market: they have expanded unemployment, widened gender gaps in labour force participation, and given rise to job insecurity, uncertainty, and hardship, it said.

“Sri Lanka lost more than 200,000 jobs to the pandemic between the fourth quarter 2019 and the second quarter 2021. The employment share of the informal sector increased because formal sector employment contracted more sharply. Although there was some recovery, during the second half of 2021, extensive job losse, among employers, augured ill for the vigorous regeneration of jobs,” the study reveals.

The report added that the pandemic also impacted the skills development sector. Efforts to provide education and training online were constrained, mainly due to problems of infrastructure access, particularly outside of the Western Province. Enrolment and completion of TVET courses in 2020, relative to 2019, declined by 50 and 57 percent respectively. However, the imposition of power cuts, in 2022, are likely to have disrupted even these limited measures.

“The pandemic also saw the emergence of the new poor — those who fell into poverty because of the pandemic – among the more educated and employed in industry and service sectors, particularly in urban areas and Western Province, the latter which accounted for the largest share of the new poor. These negative developments would have worsened in 2022 as the economic crises intensified,” it said.

Sri Lanka is currently in a full-blown debt and balance-of-payments crisis, leading to massive shortages of essentials and severe disruption to economic activity. As the crisis continues to deteriorate and is likely to lead to a deep impact on the labour market, which will require careful monitoring and analysis over the months to come, the ILO said. The severity of the crisis means that policy-makers need to grasp the nettle of structural reforms needed for recovery and job-rich growth, which will require carefully balancing macroeconomic stabilization with longer-term goals of creating decent, sustainable, and productive employment. The report suggests eight areas of policy intervention for the short, medium and long term.

They are; addressing current macroeconomic crisis through fiscal consolidation and debt restructuring, plus improved fiscal space, restoring investor confidence, reformulating investment, industry, and trade policies to support export-led growth, technological transformation, productive efficiency and job creation, especially for SMEs, increasing R&D and infrastructure investments with a clear focus on 3IR and 4IR technologies, promoting demand-driven skills development and adjustment to a post-COVID-19 economy, including remedial education/training, creating a social dialogue and legislative reform to support flexible arrangements while protecting workers, promoting policies that foster women’s entry into the labour market and support other hard-hit groups, and expanding access to adequate social protection to workers and families (including institutional reforms).

The report also said that Sri Lanka needs to work on improving learning outcomes. Even the TVET sector performs no better than the general education system, the ILO said. According to a 2018 ADB study, a sizable proportion of TVET graduates leave training programmes, without the skills that employers require. Tracer studies on the employability of TVET graduates reveal a high rate of unemployment among TVET graduates who had been trained for employment in even the fast-growing ICT, construction, tourism, and light engineering subsectors.

Continue Reading

News

Royal Park murder convict barred from leaving country

Published

on

The Supreme Court, yesterday, directed the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration to prevent Don Shamantha Jude Anthony Jayamaha, who was convicted for the murder of a person at Royal Park Apartment Complex, in 2005, from leaving the country, without Court permission.The Court made this decision when taking a case filed by Women and Media Collective seeking the suspension of the Presidential Pardon, granted by former President Maithripala Sirisena to Jayamaha.

The Court also granted leave to proceed with this petition for violating Article 12(1) of the constitution.A three-judge-bench comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Shiran Goonaratne and Mahinda Samayawardena fixed the petition for argument on 30 March 2023. Previously the Court allowed the petitioners to add former President Maithripala Sirisena as a respondent since he no longer has presidential immunity.

Women and Media Collective had named Attorney General, Jude Anthony Jayamaha, Commissioner General of Prisons, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration, Inspector General of Police, Justice Minister, President of Bar Association of Sri Lanka, as respondents. The petitioners also want the Court to issue guidelines governing the process of granting Presidential pardons.

Jayamaha was indicted at the High Court by Attorney-General for committing the murder of Yvonne Jonsson, on or about 01 July 2005. On 28 July, 2006, the High Court sentenced Jayamaha for 12 years of rigorous imprisonment, and a fine of Rs. 300,000. The Attorney General then filed a case in the Court of Appeal stating that the punishment was inadequate. The Court of Appeal sentenced Jayamaha to death. On 9 November, 2019, Jayamaha was granted a presidential pardon by Maithripala Sirisena during his last week in office.

Continue Reading

Trending