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`… Soaring Food Prices and Conflict’ Increases Hunger by a Third in West Africa

`Explosive Mix of Soaring Food Prices and Conflict’ Increases Hunger by a Third in West Africa

April 19 (EIRNS) — The hunger situation in Africa continues to deteriorate, as relief efforts continue to be overwhelmed with new crises, and receive little help in response to their calls. In an April 16 release under the above title, the World Food Program warned that “more than 31 million people in [western Africa] are expected to [become] food insecure and unable to feed themselves during the coming June-August lean season – the period when food is scarce before the next harvest. That number is more than 30 percent higher than last year and is the highest level in the best part of a decade.

“Food prices have increased dramatically across the region. Local staples are up by nearly 40 percent over the 5-year average, and in some areas, prices are up by more than 200 percent. This is caused in part by the economic impact of measures put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus over the past year. People’s incomes have plummeted due to reductions in trade, tourism, informal activities and remittances.”

Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa, explained that, “In West Africa, conflict is already driving hunger and misery. The relentless rise in prices acts as a misery multiplier, driving millions deeper into hunger and desperation. Even when food is available, families simply cannot afford it – and soaring prices are pushing a basic meal beyond the reach of millions of poor families who were already struggling to get by. The needs are immense, and unless we can raise the funds we need we simply won’t be able to keep up. We cannot let 2021 become the year of the ration cut,” he warned. [emphasis added]

This year, almost 10 million children under 5 are acutely malnourished across the region,” the WFP says, “with the Sahel alone accounting for half of that number. This number could rise significantly alongside the projected 30 percent increase in hunger, and the high prices of nutritious foods.”


Presidents of DR, Costa Rica and Panama Urge Immediate Action on Haitian Crisis

Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 22, the Presidents of the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Panama signed a communique announcing the creation of an informal alliance among them, titled the {Alliance for Democratic Institutionality,} which calls on the international community to act swiftly to address the crisis in Haiti. In the communique, Dominican President Luis Abinader, Costa Rican Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Panama’s Laurentino Cortizo Cohen express their “deep concern over the Haitian crisis and its growing impact on the region, particularly its grave migratory consequences.” They have “instructed their foreign ministers to, in alliance with strategic partners such as the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and other friendly countries, immediately devise concrete, comprehensive and sustainable solutions in the framework of respect for [human] dignity and human rights for the purpose of taking on the alarming situation in Haiti.”

All three nations are struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-triggered economic crisis, made more difficult in the recent period by having to contend with large flows of migrants, largely from Haiti. In a document produced as a result of their meeting, in addition to the communique, the three leaders stress their shared values and “consider it of the utmost importance the exchange of opinions on the challenges our region faces to retake the path of post-pandemic development,” including proposing “joint initiatives that result in the prosperity, sustainable development and the reactivation of our economies.” They stress the importance of reviving regional integration, mentioning “strategic partners” without naming them — all three nations have diplomatic ties with China; and make an obligatory reference to the “green development paradigm.” 

They will benefit from learning about the Schiller Institute’s development program for Haiti, the Caribbean and Central American region to be published in the upcoming {EIR}, which was presented in the Sept. 25 Manhattan Project Meeting, “Reconstructing Haiti is America’s Way Out of the `Global Britain’ Trap.”

Spanish-language communique and document available here.


An Underprepared India Is Teetering Under Covid-19’s Second Attack

May 5 (EIRNS)—Having withstood the first wave of the Covid-19 attack in 2020 rather commendably, India’s Modi administration declared “victory” and virtually ignored the threat waiting around the corner — the second wave of the virus attack. India is now paying dearly with lives and general chaos caused by global pandemic.

On May 4, WHO figures indicated India accounted for nearly half of the COVID-19 cases reported worldwide in the past week. The WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report that India accounted for 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week. New daily infections in the country numbered 382,315 on May 5, health ministry data showed, the 14th straight day of more than 300,000 cases. Officially, India has reported more than 3,500 deaths every day throughout the last week.

On May 4, Allahabad High Court (AHC) in Uttar Pradesh observed that the death of Covid-19 patients just because of the lack of oxygen in hospitals, which is widespread throughout the country, is a criminal act and is “no less than a genocide.” The AHC stated that the authorities- in-power are responsible for not taking measures to ensure maintenance of the oxygen supply chain.

In January-February of this year, the first wave of Covid-19 had waned in India and the official numbers showed a 90 percent drop from the peak of 96,000 per day in September 2020. The daily death toll dropped from 1,200 to 80. A sense of triumphalism began to emerge, led by a pack of cheerleaders close to Prime Minister Modi who unleashed vigorous political campaigns in five states going to the polls in March-April. On February 21, the senior leaders of the ruling party, BJP, thanked Prime Minister Modi for his “visionary leadership” that effectively weathered the Covid attack. Addressing the annual conference of Delhi Medical Association on March 7, Modi’s Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan triumphantly declared : “We are in the end game of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.”

By April 4, the second wave of Copvid-19 attack became evident, when daily new cases exceeded the peak load of September 2020. Other than banning exports of vaccines at the end of March, the Modi administration did not take any new measure to either ramp up vaccine production or the production and supply chain of oxygen. Foreign vaccine developers that applied for authorization were told to carry out bridging trials that would take a few months before emergency use authorization could be given. The dam broke loose in mid-April.

It became evident on April 15 that India’s fragile health infrastructure, under the second attack of Covid-19, had collapsed. Oxygen shortages were causing deaths at hospitals throughout India and the vaccination rates dropped from about 3.5 million jabs a day to below 2.5 million, reflecting a looming vaccine crunch.

From one million active cases a week during the last peak, India already has 3.2 million active cases, and the peak lies somewhere in the future. The second wave of Covid-19 has hit India like a tsunami and the Modi government is wholly paralyzed, leaving the people unprotected to face this deadly wave.


Schiller Institute’s Helga Zepp-LaRouche Calls for Urgent Support Action For Afghanistan—“Operation Ibn Sina”

Oct. 30 (EIRNS)–Schiller Institute founder and President, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, in a discussion on Afghanistan Oct. 29 on Islamabad TV, said that she is promoting the Schiller Institute’s proposed solution to Afghanistan, in terms she calls, “Operation Ibn Sina.” Zepp-LaRouche participated on the program from Germany, and has indicated that she will be filling out this “Ibn Sina” initiative very soon.

She stressed at the outset that we are “at a watershed” time, in which the United States and other nations now holding back, must instead work closely with the Afghan government, which is the Taliban. Release the Afghan government’s funds, support stabilization and a future. The alternative is chaos, more opium production, mass death and terrorism.

The TV broadcast was PTV World, hosted by Omar Khalid Butt, on his Views on News program, whose additional guests for the 42 minute discussion were Dr. Andrej Kortunov, Chairman of RIAC (Russian International Affairs Council) in Moscow, and Dr. Farah Naz, foreign affairs expert in Pakistan.

Zepp-LaRouche explained her proposal, in her closing remarks, addressing the significance of Ibn Sina. “He was a doctor, who probably was born in what is today Afghanistan, and he was the most famous doctor until the 17th century, who wrote books which were studied in all of Europe.

“So he’s a hero in the history of Afghanistan., and right now there is a huge health crisis—COVID-19. More than 2000 hospitals have closed down…

“The international community—everybody who wants to be part of the solution, [must] help to build up a modern health system in Afghanistan, as the first step to stabilizing the situation, [therefore] give that the name, Ibn Sina.

“He can rally all the different ethnic groups inside Afghanistan, because he’s a figure of the national history, a hero; and he gives pride, and also hope, for a good future in Afghanistan.

“And building a modern health system can be the first step, because to build a modern system, you need energy, water and infrastructure…”

                                  Deadly Great Game

Butt began his program by asking the guests to address all aspects of the significance of the crisis situation in Afghanistan, including “the geopolitical and strategic.” In opening the discussion, he showed the video clip of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issuing a call at a Tehran conference (by video) earlier this week, that Afghanistan’s neighboring countries “not allow a military presence of U.S. and NATO forces which plan to move there after leaving Afghan territory.” 

Zepp-LaRouche denounced such a prospect as a continuation of the British Great Game, which is unacceptable. Dr. Naz put forward that chaos can well be “the larger goal” of Western circles, which see the rising of China as a threat to be stopped, and are perpetrating vast harm in the Afghanistan region “by design.” Zepp-LaRouche described the West as “in a real collapse phase,” and should shift, instead, to working with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In the immediate term, massive aid must be supplied to Afghanistan to prevent genocide.

The same day at the Pakistan TV colloquy, the latest grim report on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was summarized by UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Aid, Martin Griffiths, in an AP interview. He said, “The needs are skyrocketing.” The Winter snows have started. The World Food Program, which had already been supplying daily food, not just supplemental aid, to four million people, is now facing this number rising to 12 million people. These are people completely dependent on receiving all their daily food, or they will die. In addition, another 12 million need supplemental food.

Dr. Kortunov led off his remarks with three fundamental points: supply the food, act on the medical needs, COVID-19 in particular, and get fuel to people. Later in the dialogue, he forcefully made the additional point that, with the right policies and follow through, we could expect to see Afghanistan, this beautiful mountainous nation, be “the Switzerland” of Central Asia. There are the soils, the water, the location, the resources, the youth and all the other assets.

The full PTV World broadcast can be reviewed here.


West Sends Thimbles Full of Aid to India

West Sends Thimbles Full of Aid to India

May 5 (EIRNS)–According to India Today, 3,000 tons of aid has arrived in the country so far. That may sound like a lot; but what it boils down to is that this nation of 1.4 billion people, with over 20 million cases of COVID which are growing at the rate of more than a million new cases every three days, has received a grand total of 1,656 oxygen concentrators, 20 large-sized oxygen concentrators, 965 ventilators, and an unknown number of pulse oximeters, Remdesivir packets and some PPE. The Indian government claims that, in some cases, the aid is still in transit. They added that the limited amount of the foreign aid also meant that splitting it up equally was not optimal; so the hardest-hit states were preferred.

This is hardly a serious response to a nation in peril from a global pandemic.

A particular problem is that India’s vaunted vaccine production capacity has been crippled by the Biden administration’s ban on export of vital components, which was only lifted a few days ago after major pressure was brought to bear on Washington. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said that their production of Covishield (AstraZeneca) is now about 60-70 million doses per month, and is able to rise up to 100 million/month by July.

Vaccine doses are desperately needed, given that only 2% of the Indian population has been vaccinated. Last month the government announced that they were now fast-tracking vaccine approval, and on Monday Pfizer announced that they were in discussions with India on providing vaccines. Russia began sending in the first portion of three million doses in May of Sputnik V. And pressure continues to mount on Biden to release the 60 million doses of AstraZeneca warehoused, unused, in the US. That stockpile by itself would double the vaccination program in India this month – nowhere near what is actually needed in this emergency, but certainly helpful.


Schiller Institute Internet Dialogue — ‘Need Creative Genius of the World to Bear on Haiti and Afghanistan’

Sept. 25 (EIRNS)—Today the Schiller Institute held an international webinar titled, “Reconstructing Haiti—America’s Way Out of the ‘Global Britain’ Trap. The two-and-a-half-hour discussion featured elements of a proposed development outline for Haiti, as well as immediate emergency action required, and brought together experts, with ties to Haiti, in engineering, medicine and development policy. Today’s deliberations stand in stark contrast to the events of the week, which included the U.S. forced deportation of thousands of displaced Haitians from the Texas-Mexico border, back to Haiti, to disaster conditions from the August earthquake and before.  

The six panelists were Richard Freeman, co-author of “The Schiller Institute Plan To Develop Haiti,” which EIR will publish this week for its Oct. 1 issue; Eric Walcott, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Institute of Caribbean Studies; Firmin Backer, co-founder and President of the Haiti Renewal Alliance; Joel DeJean, engineer and Texas activist with The LaRouche Organization; Dr. Walter Faggett, MD, based in Washington, D.C., where he is former Chief Medical Officer of the District of Columbia, and currently Co-Chairman of the Health Council of D.C.’s Ward 8, and an international leader with the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites; and moderator Dennis Speed of the Schiller Institute. 

Freeman presented both the dimensions of both the extreme underdevelopment forced for decades on Haiti, and also the essentials of a development program for that nation, in the context of development of all the Island of Hispaniola, and the Caribbean. He presented a map of proposed rail, nuclear power sites, safe water systems and other vital infrastructure. He showed maps of proposals that Chinese firms had made in recent years, but which fell into abeyance.

Firmin Backer pointed out that the USAID has spent $5.1 billion in Haiti over the 11 years since the 2010 earthquake, but what is there to show for it? Now, with the latest earthquake on Aug. 14, we can’t even get aid into the stricken zones, because there is no airport nor port in southern Haiti to serve the stricken people. We should reassess how wrongly the U.S. funding was spent. Firmin reported how Haiti was given some debt cancellation by the IMF years back, but then disallowed from seeking foreign credit! 

Eric Walcott was adamant, “We need the creative genius of the world to bear on Haiti and Afghanistan.” He said, “leverage the diaspora” to develop Haiti. There are more Haitian medics in New York and Miami than all of Haiti. He stressed that Haiti is not poor; the conditions are what is poor. But the population has pride, talent and resourcefulness. Walcott made a special point about elections in Haiti. He said, “Elections are a process,” not an event. He has experience. From 1998 to 2000, Walcott served as the lead observer for the OAS, for elections in Haiti. 

Joel DeJean, an American of Haitian lineage, was forceful about the need to aim for the highest level in that nation, for example, leapfrog from charcoal to nuclear power. He advised, “give China the opportunity” to deploy the very latest nuclear technology in Haiti—the pebble-bed gas cooled modular reactor. We “don’t need more nuclear submarines, we need nuclear technology!” He called for the establishment of a development bank in Haiti, and other specifics. 

Dr. Faggett summed up at many points, with the widest viewpoint and encouragement of action. He served in the U.S. military’s “Caribbean Peace-Keeping Force,” and was emphatic about taking action not only in Haiti, but worldwide. He referenced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, saying that “you can tell a lot about people, by how they take care of the health of their people.” He reported that, at present, aid workers in Haiti, are having to shelter in place, because of the terrible conditions. 

But, he said, we should mobilize. Have “vaccine diplomacy,” and work to build a health platform in Haiti, and a health care delivery system the world over. He is “excited about realizing Helga’s mission,” referring to Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, who issued a call in June 2020, for a world health security platform. At that time, she and Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, formed the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites


Two Former US Surgeons-General Respond to Helga Zepp-LaRouche Afghanistan Initiative

Two former Surgeon Generals of the United States responded to Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s initiative on Afghanistan.

Dr. David Satcher, who served as surgeon general from 1998 to 2002, had the following to say:

“Dr. William Foege, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1977-1983), in his book, House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox, about the successful effort to eradicate smallpox disease, describes how relationships were prioritized, including assuring that credit for successful interventions was appropriately shared. On the other hand, when we came close to eradicating polio in the last decade of the 20th Century, it was the fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan which prevented our success in eliminating polio in those countries, and thus eradicating it in the world. In other words, we were not willing to allow the immunization of children in Pakistan and Afghanistan to take priority over the killing of people and the winning of the war. But, in fact, nobody won the war in Afghanistan, and we failed to eradicate polio.

“Ultimately, we will eradicate polio, but unfortunately it will be after many lives have been lost and trillions of dollars have been spent.

“We can do better! We can invest in lives rather than deaths! We can bring new thinking into our relationships. We can care about each other and value lives beyond our own and beyond our own culture. We can work to make science work for us and for future generations.

“I am impressed with the idea and the statement. We’re talking about a whole new definition of winning and what it means to win, especially winning together, and supporting the healthy development of children as a priority. What is needed is a new paradigm, relative to what we value and what we are willing to do to bring it about.”

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who served as surgeon general from 1993 to 1994, responded:

“I agree with Dr. David Satcher’s response to Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s statement regarding the needed approach to the dire health and humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan and many other nations around the world. When we speak about the need for basic necessities for life, such as healthcare, food and water, that is the same for people everywhere, regardless of where you are or what type of government you have.

“The COVID pandemic is exasperating the crises in previously food and health-deprived countries. It is clear that the only way this will be defeated is with a modern healthcare system, in every nation. The Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites has emphasized the need for comprehensive, not piecemeal solutions. Infrastructure, food, energy, and clean water are crucial, combined with modern hospitals and trained personnel. I have long championed the training and deployment of community health care workers, especially recruited from among the young, to augment the resources of trained medical personnel. These workers would now be invaluable in assisting in this effort. Also, here is where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), a branch of the uniformed services of the U.S. which does not bear arms, and which I and my colleague Dr. Satcher directed, could play an important role.

“Now is the time for us to end confrontation and engage in cooperation to address the basic needs of humanity.”

_____________________________________________________________________________

For more on The Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites — founded by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, and Dr. Jocelyn Elders — and the need for a world health platform – see the Founding Statement:

See the most recent statement by Helga Zepp-LaRouche on the need for food and public health in Afghanistan, and a policy of Peace through Development:

Global Health Security Requires Medical Infrastructure in Every Country:


Afghanistan’s Drought and Water Crisis Worsening; 2,000 Health Facilities Close

Afghanistan’s Drought and Water Crisis Are Worsening; 2,000 Health Facilities Close

Oct. 25, 2021 (EIRNS)–Afghanistan’s collapse in physical economic and agricultural production, the implosion of its health system, as well as the threat to human life, has gotten worse over the last two months. The nationwide drought is intensifying, while the West applies a tourniquet to the flow of necessary funds.

Physical economic conditions never stay in a “metastable state;” they either get better or worse.

In June of this year, then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani officially declared a drought in Afghanistan. This was based on information from several agencies, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which declared that “80% of Afghanistan is exposed to serious drought”—30% to “severe drought,” and 50% to “serious drought,” comprising 80%—and the remaining 20% part of the country was exposed to “moderate drought.”

Richard Trenchard, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization director for Afghanistan, stated in late September, “This is the worst drought in 35–36 years. Many public institutions which provide a safety net, have ceased to function. Farmers have very little to fall back upon.”

Farming is being destroyed. The UN reported August 25, “Some 40 percent of [Afghanistan’s] crops have been lost to drought in the second massive water shortage in three years—further heightening food insecurity.” The World Food Program already reported that 14 million people in Afghanistan are food insecure, a number that is doubtless rising.

But the shortage of water is affecting not only agriculture, but the whole economy and society, which depends on water. A 2008 report reported “that drinking water supplies reach only 23 percent of Afghanistan’s total population… The country’s total sanitation coverage [is] only 12 percent.”

Two critical infrastructural sectors expose some of the crisis.

Afghanistan has only a combined approximately 100 private and public hospitals for a nation of 40 million people, a meager amount. The nation’s health system is run through a network of 2,200 “health facilities,” about 200 of which appear to be primary health clinics; it is not clear how large the other facilities are. These 2,200 facilities are run through an institution called Sehatmandi which is administered by the World Bank through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. It is funded through the World Bank, the European Union, Canada and Global Financing Facilities.

When the Taliban came to power in the period of August 17–18, these funding institutions cut off money. On September 30, Alexander Matheou, the Asia Pacific director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stated that “over 2,000 health facilities have closed.” He added that more than 20,000 health workers in the country were no longer working or were working without being paid; more than 7,000 of them are women. “People might agree to work without salaries for a few more weeks,” Matheou stated. “But once medicines run out totally, if you can’t switch on the lights, if you’ve got nothing to offer somebody who comes to your clinic, then they’ll shut the doors.”

Under intense pressure, on September 20, the Global Fund and the United Nations Development Fund signed an agreement to supply $15 million to the 2,200 health facilities. This is a drop in the bucket.

International donors pledged in October $1.2 billion to Afghanistan. But there are three roadblocks: 1) it is not clear how much of the pledged money will be really delivered; 2) it takes sometimes months for the money to get into the system; and 3) above all, the clinics are greatly inadequate, Afghanistan needs hundreds of new advanced hospitals, tens of thousands of skilled doctors and nurses, and so forth.

In the meantime, COVID is looming. Nine of Afghanistan’s 37 COVID hospitals have closed. Afghanistan has put a reported only 2.2 million COVID jabs into people; it has 1.2 million doses of vaccine waiting to be distributed, that haven’t been. They will expire by the end of the year.

This is pure and simple genocide.

As for water, Afghanistan has an annual surface water runoff water volume of 57,000 million cubic meters per year, which comes out to approximately 1,425 cubic meters/year per capita. This is insufficient, but would be a start. However, Afghanistan does not have an adequate water basin catchment system, and precipitation is not evenly distributed geographically.

In 2016, India spent $275 million to complete what is now called the “Afghan-India Friendship Dam” in Herat province on the Hari River. It will irrigate 75,000 hectares of land. But otherwise, new dam construction and broader water management hardly exists.

The U.S. is blocking more than $9 billion in Afghanistan’s central bank that belong to the Afghan people. The World Bank, IMF, and EU are blocking hundreds of millions more. (See the Schiller Institute’s demand for release of the Afghans’ funds at this link.)

These more than $10 billion, were they deposited in a fund under sovereign Afghan control, could be used to build hospitals, administer the COVID-19 vaccine; begin emergency food and water distribution; make down payments on dams and water management projects; build power stations, etc. Immediate building in Afghanistan must start.


World Food Program’s Beasley in Haiti: ‘We’ve Got to Help These People’

Sept. 18 (EIRNS)–The Executive Director of the World Food Program’s David Beasley has been in Haiti for several days to work with aid teams and publicize the need to take action. On Sept. 16, he sent a video tweet from Maniche, showing how “house, after house, after house, after house in Maniche was completely destroyed… you can see how bad it is, and we’ve got to help these people.” There have been four weeks of clean-up, but there is destruction all over the place. He wrote, “This is why these families need our support to recover and rebuild.” On Sept. 17, he visited a cooked-meals operation run by the World Central Kitchen.


Brazil: Will the Next Coronavirus Variant Be Vaccine-Resistant?

Brazil: Will the Next Coronavirus Variant Be Vaccine-Resistant?

April 15, 2021 (EIRNS) – Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) sub-director Jarbas Barbosa warned in remarks this week that, if COVID-19 is not controlled across the world, there exists a worst-case scenario in which a new vaccine-resistant variant emerges. One of the likely places that could happen is Brazil, where the already dangerous P1 Brazilian strain, which is believed to be as much as 2.5 times more contagious than the original coronavirus and more resistant to antibodies, has wreaked havoc in the country and brought the country’s public health system to near-breakdown.

          New research conducted by Brazil’s public health institute, Fiocruz, is focusing on an even newer variant. “We believe it’s another escape mechanism the virus is creating to evade the response of antibodies,” said Felipe Naveca, one of the authors of the Fiocruz study. “This is particularly worrying because the virus is continuing to accelerate in its evolution.”

          On Tuesday, France suspended all flights to and from Brazil to try to stop the new Brazilian strains from spreading into that country.


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