UN food chief: Billions needed to stave of unrest, mass migration and starvation

UN food chief: Billions needed to stave of unrest, mass migration and starvation
In this Aug. 19, 2022, World Food Program chief David Beasley meets with villagers in the village of Wagalla in northern Kenya. (AP File) 
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Updated 01 April 2023

UN food chief: Billions needed to stave of unrest, mass migration and starvation

UN food chief: Billions needed to stave of unrest, mass migration and starvation
  • David Beasley says an estimated 350 million people in 49 countries desperately need food
  • Urges China, Gulf nations, billionaires and other countries “to step up big time”

UNITED NATIONS: Without billions of dollars more to feed millions of hungry people, the world will see mass migration, destabilized countries, and starving children and adults in the next 12 to 18 months, the head of the  UN World Food Program warned Friday.
David Beasley praised increased funding from the United States and Germany last year, and urged China, Gulf nations, billionaires and other countries “to step up big time.”
In an interview before he hands the reins of the world’s largest humanitarian organization to US ambassador Cindy McCain next week, the former South Carolina governor said he’s “extremely worried” that WFP won’t raise about $23 billion it needs this year to help an estimated 350 million people in 49 countries who desperately need food.
“Right at this stage, I’ll be surprised if we get 40 percent of it, quite frankly,” he said.
WFP was in a similar crisis last year, he said, but fortunately he was able to convince the United States to increase its funding from about $3.5 billion to $7.4 billion and Germany to raise its contribution from $350 million a few years ago to $1.7 billion, but he doesn’t think they’ll do it again this year.
Other countries need to step up now, he said, starting with China, the world’s second-largest economy which gave WFP just $11 million last year.

With $400 trillion worth of wealth on the planet, there’s no reason for any child to die of starvation.

David Beasley, WFP chief

Beasley applauded China for its success in substantially reducing hunger and poverty at home, but said it gave less than one cent per person last year compared to the United States, the world’s leading economy, which gave about $22 per person.
China needs “to engage in the multilateral world” and be willing to provide help that is critical, he said. “They have a moral obligation to do so.”
Beasley said they’ve done “an incredible job of feeding their people,” and “now we need their help in other parts of the world” on how they did it, particularly in poorer countries including in Africa.
With high oil prices Gulf countries can also do more, especially Muslim nations that have relations with countries in east Africa, the Sahara and elsewhere in the Middle East, he said, expressing hope they will increase contributions.
Beasley said the wealthiest billionaires made unprecedented profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and “it’s not too much to ask some of the multibillionaires to step up and help us in the short-term crisis,” even though charity isn’t a long-term solution to the food crisis.
In the long-term, he said what he’d really like to see is billionaires using their experience and success to engage “in the world’s greatest need – and that is food on the planet to feed 8 billion people.”
“The world has to understand that the next 12 to 18 months is critical, and if we back off the funding, you will have mass migration, and you will have destabilization nations and that will all be on top of starvation among children and people around the world,” he warned.
Beasley said WFP was just forced to cut rations by 50 percent to 4 million people in Afghanistan, and “these are people who are knocking on famine’s door now.”
“We don’t have enough money just to reach the most vulnerable people now,” he said. “So we are in a crisis over the cliff stage right now, where we literally could have hell on earth if we’re not very careful.”
Beasley said he’s been telling leaders in the West and Europe that while they’re focusing everything on Ukraine and Russia, “you better well not forget about what’s south and southeast of you because I can assure you it is coming your way if you don’t pay attention and get on top of it.”
With $400 trillion worth of wealth on the planet, he said, there’s no reason for any child to die of starvation.
The WFP executive director said leaders have to prioritize the humanitarian needs that are going to have the greatest impact on stability in societies around the world.
He singled out several priority places — Africa’s Sahel region as well as the east including Somalia, northern Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia; Syria which is having an impact on Jordan and Lebanon; and Central and South America where the number of people migrating to the United States is now five times what it was a year-and-a-half ago.

 


Pentagon says concerned over China’s ‘increasingly risky’ actions in Asia

Pentagon says concerned over China’s ‘increasingly risky’ actions in Asia
Updated 04 June 2023

Pentagon says concerned over China’s ‘increasingly risky’ actions in Asia

Pentagon says concerned over China’s ‘increasingly risky’ actions in Asia

SINGAPORE: The Pentagon voiced concern on Sunday over the Chinese military’s “increasingly risky and coercive activities” in Asia.
“We remain concerned about the PLA’s increasingly risky and coercive activities in the region, including in recent days,” said Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, who is with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at a security conference in Singapore.

 


Five Greek police officers in custody pending trial for assisting illegal migrant crossings

Five Greek police officers in custody pending trial for assisting illegal migrant crossings
Updated 03 June 2023

Five Greek police officers in custody pending trial for assisting illegal migrant crossings

Five Greek police officers in custody pending trial for assisting illegal migrant crossings
  • The five officers had been testifying before an examining magistrate since Saturday morning at the border town of Orestiada
  • Agents from the internal affairs division of the Greek police had been monitoring the five officers since October 2022

THESSALONIKI, Greece: Five police officers accused of cooperating with human traffickers to facilitate the entry of at least 100 migrants into Greece are being held in custody pending trial.
The five officers had been testifying before an examining magistrate since Saturday morning at the border town of Orestiada, in northeastern Greece.
Agents from the internal affairs division of the Greek police had been monitoring the five officers, who serve in a special border guard unit, since October 2022. They also listened into their phone conversations, whose transcripts run into over 2,000 pages. The officers had aroused suspicion by volunteering to patrol at certain times, together.
Authorities say the offices facilitated at least 12 border crossings, collaborating with four traffickers of undetermined nationality who operated from Turkiye.
Authorities allege that the accused officers took a cut from the money the traffickers received from the migrants to take them across the border. When the officers were arrested last Monday in the border town of Didymoteicho, police confiscated some 26,000 euros ($28,000) in cash, and nearly 60 mobile phones.
Almost all the land border between Greece and Turkiye is formed by the Evros River, called Meric in Turkiye. The Evros is a key crossing point into Greece for people seeking a better life in the European Union. Greece has built a high fence along much of the border to prevent migrants crossing, and is planning to further extend it.


Death toll climbs in Senegal after two days of violent protests

Death toll climbs in Senegal after two days of violent protests
Updated 03 June 2023

Death toll climbs in Senegal after two days of violent protests

Death toll climbs in Senegal after two days of violent protests
  • The flow of migrants from Tunisia has intensified since President Kais Saied made a fiery speech on Feb. 21 claiming illegal immigration was a demographic threat to Tunisia

DAKAR: The death toll from anti-government protests in Senegal has risen to 15, police said on Saturday, as authorities in the capital Dakar began to clear up debris and secure looted shops after two days of unrest.
Most of Dakar appeared quiet on Saturday, but tensions remained high after violent protests in several cities killed six people on Friday, taking the total number killed this week to 15, a police spokesperson said by phone.
The toll has now surpassed the number killed in multi-day protests in 2021, when supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko first took to the streets over a rape trial they say is politically motivated.
Sonko denies any wrongdoing.

FASTFACT

Mobs smashed windows and looted at least two gas station shops in Dakar’s Ouakam and Ngor districts.

Sonko’s sentencing on Thursday, which could prevent him from running in the February presidential election, sparked the latest turmoil as protesters heeded his call to stand up to the authorities.
Mobs smashed windows and looted at least two gas station shops in Dakar’s Ouakam and Ngor districts, while a supermarket in densely populated Grand Yoff was torched and ransacked. Rubble littered the roads that were scarred black by fires.
“The police could not do anything, there were too many of them. The police had to leave after several attempts to control the crowd with tear-gas grenades,” said resident Khadija by the supermarket whose interior was gutted and strewn with broken shelves, mud and trash.
The government has enlisted the army to back up the many riot police still stationed around the city. Over a dozen soldiers guarded the trashed gas station in Ouakam on Saturday, as some shop owners tentatively opened their doors, although streets were unusually empty.
Abdou Ndiaye, the owner of a nearby corner shop said he had closed early the two previous days and opened late on Saturday, fearful of the unrest that he said was the worst he’d seen in his 15 years of business.
“We are so scared because you don’t know when the crowds will come, and when they come they take ... your goods, they are thieves,” he said in a storeroom stacked with sacks of food and household items.
“There are people who demonstrate but there are others who do whatever they want.”
The unrest is the latest in a string of opposition protests in Senegal, long considered one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, sparked by Sonko’s court case as well as concerns that President Macky Sall will try to bypass the two-term limit and run again in February elections.
Sall has neither confirmed nor denied this.

 


Greek police find €3.2 million of cocaine in banana containers

Greek police find €3.2 million of cocaine in banana containers
Updated 03 June 2023

Greek police find €3.2 million of cocaine in banana containers

Greek police find €3.2 million of cocaine in banana containers
  • Police seized two suspect containers at the port of Piraeus
  • The drugs are estimated to be worth about €3.2 million, police said

ATHENS: Police in northern Greece have seized dozens of packages of cocaine stashed in containers laden with bananas that had been shipped from Latin America, they said on Saturday.
Police seized two suspect containers at the port of Piraeus and, after taking them to the port of Thessaloniki, found 100 “bricks” of concealed cocaine, weighing 161 kilos.
The drugs, which would have been distributed across Greece and other European countries, are estimated to be worth about €3.2 million, police said.
The consignment was found as part of an investigation Greece launched last month with North Macedonia authorities and the US anti-drug agency, following the seizure of about 100 kilos of cocaine also hidden in banana containers at a warehouse in Thessaloniki. Some 14 people have been arrested in that case.


Nearly 300 killed in one of India’s worst rail disasters in history

Nearly 300 killed in one of India’s worst rail disasters in history
Updated 03 June 2023

Nearly 300 killed in one of India’s worst rail disasters in history

Nearly 300 killed in one of India’s worst rail disasters in history
  • Two trains carrying thousands of passengers collided with a freight train
  • Odisha observes day of mourning after the disaster of ‘unimaginable scale’

NEW DELHI: Nearly 300 people have died and hundreds of others were injured in eastern India when three trains collided in one of the worst rail disasters in the country’s history, authorities said on Saturday.
The accident took place in the Balasore district of Odisha state on Friday when the Coromandel Shalimar Express from Kolkata to Chennai derailed after hitting a parked freight train. Another train, the Howrah Superfast Express, traveling in the opposite from Yesvantpur to Howrah, then hit the overturned carriages.
The Coromandel Shalimar Express had 2,000 people on board and the Howrah Superfast Express at least 1,000, according to their passenger manifests.

FASTFACT

The state government of Odisha sent 200 ambulances and hundreds of first responders to the scene as it mobilized dozens of doctors to attend to the injured, saying that the accident was a ‘disaster of unimaginable scale.’

The state government of Odisha sent 200 ambulances and hundreds of first responders to the scene as it mobilized dozens of doctors to attend to the injured, saying that the accident was a “disaster of unimaginable scale.”
The South Eastern Railway, which has jurisdiction over the area, confirmed on Saturday afternoon that at least 261 people were killed in the crash.
“Another 650 injured passengers are being treated at various hospitals in Odisha,” SER spokesperson Aditya Chowdhury told reporters.
Rescuers who continued to dig through debris to find survivors feared that the toll might still increase.
Dr. Sudhanshu Sarangi, director-general of the Odisha Fire Service, said the aftermath of the accident was “extremely distressing” and many of the rescued were critically injured.
“So many dead bodies, the smell, the rigor mortis, it’s terrible. We won’t be able to sleep for a few nights. It’s a terrible tragedy,” he told Arab News.
A day of mourning was observed in Odisha on Saturday as top officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, arrived in the crash site.
The accident has caused disruptions in the movement of hundreds of trains from eastern India to the rest of the country.
India has the largest network of railway tracks in the world with over 13 million people traveling 70,000 km of track in over 14,000 trains every day.
Each year, several hundred accidents are recorded on the country’s railways, but the one in Odisha was the worst since August 1999, when two trains collided near Kolkata, killing at least 285 people.
In August 1995, at least 350 people are killed when two trains collided 200 km from Delhi.
The country’s worst train disaster took place in June 1981, when seven of the nine coaches of an overcrowded train fell into a river during a cyclone in the eastern state of Bihar.

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