News in Brief 09 November 2017 (AM)

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An internally displaced woman and her daughter look over the city of Sana'a, Yemen,
from the roof of this dilapidated building they call their new home. Photo: Giles Clarke/UN OCHA

Famine in Yemen could result in "millions of victims": UN relief chief

Millions could die in one of the worst famines ever, if air, sea and land access is not restored, to allow humanitarian aid into Yemen.

That dire warning came from UN relief chief, Mark Lowcock, on Wednesday, after he briefed the Security Council behind closed doors.

Speaking to reporters, he said that the closure of Yemen's borders last weekend by the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebels since 2015, would have a catastrophic impact, if not lifted soon.

Saudi Arabia ordered the blockade, following a missile attack on its capital, Riyadh, by Houthi forces, who are backed by Iran.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Lowcock, said that if the blockade continued to prevent aid deliveries, the result would be a devastating famine.

"It will not be like the famine which cost 250,000 people their lives in Somalia in 2011. It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims."

Cost of importing food set to rise, despite stable prices: FAO

The cost of importing food is set to rise by around six per cent compared with last year, despite robust supply, said the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday.

Its latest Food Outlook report predicts that import costs will rise to more than $1.4 trillion, driven by increased international demand for most food stuffs, as well as higher freight charges.

FAO said they were concerned by the economic and social impact of double-digit increases in food import bills for Least-Developed Countries, and so-called Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries.

However, the higher import costs come at a time when inventories are robust, harvest forecasts are strong and food commodity markets remain well supplied.

Here's Aldolreza Abbassian, FAO Senior Economist.

"We are in fact, expecting quite a big increase in the year-on-year increase for prices of almost all commodities but sugar. Prices are up – they're not obviously anywhere near as high as the records we had. But supplies are adequate and we should have a rather balanced supply estimate outlook for   2017/8 seasons."

Top Pacific leaders to discuss food security with FAO

Leaders of 11 states in the Pacific will discuss their region's food security and nutrition challenges at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome this Saturday.

The high-level roundtable discussion, to be chaired by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, aims to address the severe impact that climate change and natural disasters have had on food systems.

Poor diets and chronic malnutrition are among the serious problems facing many Pacific island states.

According to FAO, the lack of demand and availability of healthy foods on the islands, are among the factors that have led to an increase in diet-related illness, such as obesity.

Pacific leaders will also discuss other food-related threats such as land and costal degradation, and decreasing fish stocks.

The meeting takes place ahead of the Pacific region's participation at the on-going COP23, the UN Climate Conference in Bonn.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'47"

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