Obsessed with ‘Celebs’ and trivia, the British and American newspapers haven’t got round to reporting fully - if at all - on this mounting global crisis. This report alone lists disturbances in 14 countries.
And bear in mind that as the politicians remain obsessed with (a non-existent) global warming that this crisis has been made infinitely worse by the coldest winters for decades - if not centuries - across the world.
EU aid chief says rising food prices risk African 'humanitarian tsunami'
By Leigh Phillips
As food riots sweep the developing world, the EU's foreign aid chief has warned that sky-rocketing food price rises threaten a "humanitarian tsunami" in Africa, and has promised a boost in aid to support food security.
"A global food crisis is becoming apparent," said EU humanitarian aid commissioner Louis Michel after a meeting with African Union Commission President Jean Ping, "less visible than the oil crisis, but with the potential effect of a real economic and humanitarian tsunami in Africa."
The commissioner said that the EU would boost emergency food aid from the European Development Funds from its current €650 million to €1.2 billion.
In recent weeks, food riots have swept the developing world as UN World Food Programme officials warn that a 'perfect storm' of poor harvests [bitter winters -cs] , rising fuel prices, the growth of biofuels and increased pressure from a growing middle class in China and India is rapidly increasing world hunger.
The last two days have seen food riots in Egypt over a doubling of the price of staple food items in the past year. Some 40 people died in similar riots in Cameroon in February, with violent demonstrations also recently taking place in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Mauritania.
Less deadly protests in the last week have also occurred in Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Bolivia.
In the last week in Haiti, five people have been killed in riots over price rises for rice, beans and fruit, with protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday (8 April), while UN staff in Jordan have gone on a one-day strike this week asking for a pay rise to deal with the 50 percent increase in prices.
Elsewhere, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan are introducing restrictions on rice exports.
The UN's undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator, John Holmes, on Tuesday said that rising food prices are threatening political stability throughout the developing world.
"The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe," said Mr Holmes, speaking at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) Conference, according to the Guardian. "Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity," he added.
Kanayo Nwanza, vice president of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said on Tuesday: "Escalating social unrest as we have seen in Cameroon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and in Senegal could spread to other countries," reports AFP.
African finance ministers met last week in Addis Ababa to consider the food crisis. In a statement, the ministers warned that food price rises "pose significant threats to Africa's growth, peace and security."
Last month, the head of the UN World Food Programme, Josette Sheeran, said that high oil prices, low food stocks, growing demand from China and the push for biofuels are causing a food crisis around the world.
"We are seeing a new face of hunger," she said. "We are seeing more urban hunger than ever before. We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it."
Food price rises threaten global security - UN
Hunger riots will destabilise weak governments, says senior official
Rising food prices could spark worldwide unrest and threaten political stability, the UN's top humanitarian official warned yesterday after two days of rioting in Egypt over the doubling of prices of basic foods in a year and protests in other parts of the world.
Sir John Holmes, undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and the UN's emergency relief coordinator, told a conference in Dubai that escalating prices would trigger protests and riots in vulnerable nations. Prices have risen 40% on average globally since last summer.
"The security implications [of the food crisis] should also not be underestimated as food riots are already being reported across the globe," Holmes said. "Current food price trends are likely to increase sharply both the incidence and depth of food insecurity."
As well as this week's violence in Egypt, the rising cost and scarcity of food has been blamed for:
· Riots in Haiti last week that killed four people
· Violent protests in Ivory Coast
· Price riots in Cameroon in February that left 40 people dead
· Heated demonstrations in Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal
· Protests in Uzbekistan, Yemen, Bolivia and Indonesia
UN staff in Jordan also went on strike for a day this week to demand a pay rise in the face of a 50% hike in prices, while Asian countries such as Cambodia, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan have curbed rice exports to ensure supplies for their own residents.
Officials in the Philippines have warned that people hoarding rice could face economic sabotage charges. A moratorium is being considered on converting agricultural land for housing or golf courses, while fast-food outlets are being pressed to offer half-portions of rice.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says rice production should rise by 12m tonnes, or 1.8%, this year, which would help ease the pressure. It expects "sizable" increases in all the major Asian rice producing countries, especially Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Burma, the Philippines and Thailand.
Holmes is the latest senior figure to warn the world is facing a worsening food crisis. Josette Sheeran, director of the UN World Food Programme, said last month: "We are seeing a new face of hunger. We are seeing more urban hunger than ever before. We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it."
The programme has launched an appeal to boost its aid budget from $2.9bn to $3.4bn (£1.5bn to £1.7bn) to meet higher prices, which officials say are jeopardising the programme's ability to continue feeding 73 million people worldwide.
Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, said "many more people will suffer and starve" unless the US, Europe, Japan and other rich countries provide funds. He said prices of all staple food had risen 80% in three years, and that 33 countries faced unrest because of the price rises.
In the UK, Professor John Beddington, the new chief scientific adviser to the government, used his first speech last month to warn the effects of the food crisis would bite more quickly than "climate change." He said the agriculture industry needed to double its food production, using less water than today.
He said the prospect of food shortages over the next 20 years was so acute it had to be tackled immediately: "Climate change is a real issue and is rightly being dealt with by major global investment. However, I am concerned there is another major issue along a similar time-scale - that of food and energy security." [Well, he’s got it half right! -cs]