UN funds deficit stalls urgent food aid to Guinea Bissau

Updated 27 March 2013

UN funds deficit stalls urgent food aid to Guinea Bissau

GENEVA: The United Nations said yesterday that it had been forced to delay desperately-needed food aid to nearly 300,000 people in Guinea Bissau since it so far had received no donations to support the operation.
“The assistance was due to start on March 1, 2013, but operations are stalled because, so far, (we have) not received any donor support for the operation,” Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Program, told reporters in Geneva.
The WFP was urgently seeking $ 7.1 million to provide food and nutrition aid to 278,000 people across the troubled west African nation this year, “including young mothers and children at increased risk of malnutrition,” she said.
“But we can’t buy food without paying for it,” she said.
The country is considered one of the world’s poorest, with a full 69 percent of the 1.6 million inhabitants living on less than two dollars a day, and 33 percent living on less than one dollar, Byrs said.
A coup last April caused further turmoil in the country, which has suffered chronic instability since independence from Portugal in 1974 due to conflict between the army and state.
No president has ever completed a full term in office.
“Over the past few years, Guinea Bissau... has suffered a series of shocks resulting in a worsened food and nutrition situation for many vulnerable people,” she said, pointing out that the situation had gone downhill after a recent poor harvest of cashew nuts, the country’s main export good.
“Many households have no choice but to sell their livestock and other essential assets to put food on the family table,” she said.
Byrs said a full six percent of the country’s population was suffering from acute malnutrition, with the rate rising to eight percent in some regions.
The WFP aims to provide meals to 85,000 children through school feeding programs, including take-home rations to girls to help boost their access to schooling, she said.
It also wants to provide food supplements to some 5,000 malnourished children under the age of five and for 1,960 malnourished pregnant women and new mothers, she said
In 2012, the UN agency reached 211,300 people through school feeding, health and nutrition and community projects using food assistance in exchange for labor, she said.


Mexico confirms first three cases of coronavirus, linked to Italy

Updated 29 February 2020

Mexico confirms first three cases of coronavirus, linked to Italy

  • The three men are believed to have visited northern Italy
  • Two more suspected cases are under analysis in the central state of Guanajuato and one in northwestern Durango
MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s health ministry said the country has confirmed three cases of the coronavirus, becoming the second Latin American nation reached by the global outbreak.
The three men — two in Mexico City and one in the northern state of Sinaloa — are all believed to have visited northern Italy, the epicenter of the virus in Europe.
“Probably all three were infected from the same source. All three are imported cases,” Jose Luis Alomia, general director of epidemiology at the Ministry of Health, said at a press conference Friday.
Senior health ministry official Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a separate news conference that one of the men, a 35-year-old in the capital, “has a mild, mild illness” with symptoms “similar to that of a cold.”
“He is a young individual and so he is at very low risk,” he said.
The patient and five members of his family have been isolated at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Lopez-Gatell added.
The second case, a 41-year-old man who returned from Bergamo in Italy, is in isolation at a hotel in Sinaloa after being tested by regional authorities, officials said.
A 59-year-old man in Mexico City who also visited northern Italy is the third case but authorities did not say whether he had been hospitalized.
Italy has recorded 650 cases of the coronavirus and 17 deaths across cities in the north.
In Mexico, two more, suspected cases are under analysis in the central state of Guanajuato and one in northwestern Durango.
“It is not a national or health emergency,” Lopez-Gatell said, urging Mexicans to remain calm and not panic-buy protective items such as masks.
Mexico is the second Latin American nation to confirm coronavirus infections after Brazil said it had a case on Wednesday.
More than 50 countries have now reported cases worldwide.
The virus has infected more than 85,000 people and over 2,900 have died — mostly in China where the epidemic started.