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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Millions of Ghanaians vulnerable to food insecurity

A total of 1.2 million Ghanaians are currently exposed to food insecurity while another two million remain vulnerable to the problem.

The report released by the United Nations office in Ghana on Tuesday indicated that the figure represented five per cent of the population most of whom were concentrated in the three northern regions.

"Events such as the severe floods and drought of 2007, coupled with climate change, chieftaincy conflicts, rise in global food and fuel prices have cumulatively heightened the already existing vulnerabilities among some populace in Ghana," said Mr. Kane Makane, United Nations Resident Coordinator.

Addressing a ceremony to mark the annual celebration of United Nations' Fallen Humanitarian Workers on Wednesday, he praised Ghana for the stability in the country and called for an end to the chieftaincy disputes in the Northern Region and other ethnic and political conflicts since they could degenerate into violent national crisis.

"The cost of these conflicts, the proliferation of small arms and the increasing likelihood of the exploitation of such conflicts for banditry and undemocratic political ends continue to give cause for grave concern," he added.

He said currently, close to 15,000 Liberian and Togolese refugees were being hosted by Ghana and the figure was likely to rise depending on the success of the general election in neighbouring Cote D'Ivoire late this year and in Togo early next year.

He cited the confirmation of Influenza HINI in the country, high rate of malnutrition, cholera outbreak in the Volta Region and Guinea Worm infestation in the three northern regions as humanitarian issues, which are a source of worry.

Mrs Diana Boakye, a director, National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) said between 1995 and 2007, the country experienced three major floods displacing 1.7 million persons in addition to 80 major epidemics from cholera and Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, which claimed 1,400 lives and affected 17,800 persons between 1997 and 2002.

According to the director, the floods that occurred between June and August 2009 in the Southern and Middle belts internally displaced more than 52,429 people and claimed 23 lives.

She called for more public education and awareness creation, improvement on early warning systems in communities and communication and co-ordination systems especially in emergency responses, as some of the means by which the country could fight disaster effectively.

In a message read on his behalf, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary- General paid tribute to humanitarian workers who lost their lives in the cause of duty and called for an end to all attacks on such personnel.

"This is a day on which we pay tribute to the legions of heroic humanitarian personnel. These men and women who come from many backgrounds share the conviction that one person's suffering is everyone's responsibility," he said.

Candles were lit in the memory of 18 humanitarian workers from across the world who lost their lives in the course of duty while a wreath was laid in memory of Sergio Vierra de Mello, a great humanitarian and 22 others who were killed in a Baghdad bombing during an attack on UN Headquarters in 2003.

August 19 was chosen by the UN General Assembly to mark the day on which de Mello and 22 others were killed.

Source: GNA

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