People's Stories Advocates

42 million people are at famine’s door
by Peyvand Khorsandi & Paul Anthem
World Food Programme (WFP)
1 Nov. 2021
A total 42 million people are on the brink of famine across 43 countries and the slightest shock will push them over the edge, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.
An instant cash injection of US$US6.6 billion would reel them back from the precipice, by providing a meal a day for each person for the next year. Without immediate emergency food assistance, they face starvation.
Issuing an urgent rallying call, WFP Chief Executive David Beasley said: “US$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don't reach them. It's not complicated.
"While COVID is undeniably exacerbating fragility around the world, manmade conflict is driving instability and powering a destructive new wave of famine that threatens to sweep the world. The toll being paid in human misery is unimaginable.”
Afghanistan is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with the country's needs surpassing those of the other worst-hit countries — Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and even Yemen.
A total 22.8 million people now face acute food insecurity in Afghanistan according to the latest IPC assessment — a global standard for assessing food insecurity — including 8.7 million facing emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC phase 4). New figures expected in the coming days are likely to show the situation has worsened even further.
WFP has never seen this many people facing emergency levels of food insecurity in the country, in the 10 years that the UN has been conducting IPC analyses.
Across the world, 15 million more people are at risk of starvation than was the case before the the COVID-19 pandemic.
The slightest shock — be it extreme weather linked to climate change, conflict, or the deadly interplay of both hunger drivers — may push tens of millions of people into irreversible peril, a prospect WFP has been warning of for more than a year.
WFP is undertaking the biggest operation in its history, targeting 139 million people this year. But there are immense hurdles.
In 2020 extreme weather displaced 30 million people, while conflict displaced 10 million — figures that in tandem with the cost of responding are only expected to rise.
WFP Chief Economist Arif Husain explained how spiralling costs were affecting the organization's work and required urgent cash support.
"Food procurement prices are up 21 percent from a year ago — US$300 million more if we bought the same amount of food as last year,” he said. “Transport costs are through the roof because of high fuel prices — a container that cost US$1,000 a year ago now costs US$4,000 or even more.”
Updated figures due out this week are likely to paint an even bleaker picture of people in need, said Husain: "Don’t expect these numbers to go down unless we solve the conflicts, climate crises and economic fallout of COVID-19. I grieve when any child is harmed and we work every single day to give millions of children hope and a future."
WFP is uniquely positioned to stop famine in its tracks, and steer people away from the edge of starvation, with a deep-field presence, operations in over 80 countries and cutting-edge expertise acquired over decades fighting hunger.
The most powerful tool that WFP can deploy to save lives in the face of famine is emergency food assistance. This will remain critical to mitigate or avert the direct effects of food insecurity and famine in the short term.
To eliminate the threat of starvation and prevent famine entirely requires longer term and more complex interventions, including processes to strengthen education, nutrition, livelihood resilience and social protection systems.

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Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power
by Norwegian Nobel Committee
Oslo, 8 October 2021
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.
Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.
Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines. In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population. Ms Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.
Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Since 1995 he has been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media.
Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ”troll factories” to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.
Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya. Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism.
Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.
Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time.

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