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Madagascar: ‘World cannot look away’ as 1.3 million face severe hunger

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A mother feeds her child at home in Tshombe District, Madagascar, where nearly 55 per cent of the population is facing severe food insecurity. UNOCHA/Viviane Rakotoarivony

The international community must step up support to Madagascar, where more than one million people in the south are facing severe hunger, the top UN aid official there said on Thursday in a renewed appeal for solidarity and funding. 

The impacts of the most acute drought in over 40 years, combined with sandstorms and pests, have made it nearly impossible for people in the Grand Sud to grow their own food for at least three years now. 

“The world cannot look away. People in Madagascar need our support now, and into the future,” said Issa Sanogo, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country. 

Funding needed now 

The World Food Programme (WFP) recently warned that the situation in southern Madagascar could become the first-ever famine caused by climate change. 

The UN and partners are seeking $231 million to cover operations through May 2022.   

Although nearly $120 million has been received so far, the UN humantarian affairs office, OCHA, said more funding is urgently needed to provide food, water, health services and life-saving nutrition treatment in the months ahead. 

Mr. Sanogo recently visited the Grand Sud where he saw “the human face of the global climate crisis.”  

Eating cactus and locusts 

The drought has left more than 1.3 million people facing severe hunger, including some 30,000 people who are facing life-threatening famine-like conditions. 

“Women, children and families are eating cactus or locusts to survive this drought and more than half a million children are acutely malnourished,” he said. “This is happening in a country and a region that has contributed the least to climate change.” 

The crisis has forced families to take their children out of school so they can help with tasks such as finding food and water.   

Gender-based violence and child abuse have risen, and people have been displaced from rural areas to urban centres in search of sustenance and services. 

Prevent catastrophe, promote resilience 

“I have met families that told me they had to sell all of their personal belongings, right up to their pots and pans, to buy small amounts of food that will not keep them going for long,” said Mr. Sanogo. “It is imperative that the world acts now to help these families.” 

Humanitarian organizations have significantly expanded their operations in Madagascar this year, reaching over 900,000 people with life-saving assistance, in tandem with Government efforts.  

However, with the peak of the lean season, which runs from January to April, fast approaching, Mr. Sanogo underlined the critical need to scale up response now. 

“I call on the international community to show solidarity with the communities in the Grand Sud, who are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, and to put forward the funding that is needed to both prevent a humanitarian catastrophe today, and enable people to become more resilient tomorrow.” 

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Europe accuses US of ‘profiting from war’

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Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer. “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO.

Washington announced a $369 billion industrial subsidy scheme to support green industries under the Inflation Reduction Act that Brussels went into full-blown panic mode. “The Inflation Reduction Act has changed everything,” one EU diplomat said. “Is Washington still our ally or not?”

“We are really at a historic juncture,” the senior EU official said, arguing that the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance. “America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries.”

The biggest point of tension in recent weeks has been Biden’s green subsidies and taxes that Brussels says unfairly tilt trade away from the EU and threaten to destroy European industries. Despite formal objections from Europe, Washington has so far shown no sign of backing down.

As they attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, EU countries are turning to gas from the U.S. instead — but the price Europeans pay is almost four times as high as the same fuel costs in America. Then there’s the likely surge in orders for American-made military kit as European armies run short after sending weapons to Ukraine.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the risks that the increasingly toxic atmosphere will have for the Western alliance.

“The U.S. is following a domestic agenda, which is regrettably protectionist and discriminates against U.S. allies,” said Tonino Picula, the European Parliament’s lead person on the transatlantic relationship.

Cheaper energy has quickly become a huge competitive advantage for American companies, too. Businesses are planning new investments in the U.S. or even relocating their existing businesses away from Europe to American factories. Just this week, chemical multinational Solvay announced t is choosing the U.S. over Europe for new investments, in the latest of a series of similar announcements from key EU industrial giants.

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American view: ‘Putting an end to Volodymyr Zelensky’s follies!’

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“Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true,” – writes Philip Giraldi from Ron Paul Institute.

One week ago, he reminds, the Ukrainian government may have deliberately attacked neighbor Poland in an attempt to draw the NATO alliance into its war with Russia. The incident involved a missile that hit a grain processing site inside Poland and killed two farmers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately blamed Russia for the incident even though he surely must have known that the missile had been fired from Ukraine, meaning that he may have been using a so-called “false flag” to create a false narrative of what had occurred.

Given the fact that Zelensky has been saying and doing everything possible to draw the US and NATO into fighting Russia on his behalf, I believe that the missile strike was quite plausibly a deliberate “false flag” attempt to start a much broader war.

That such a war could easily turn nuclear reveals just how reckless Zelensky can be. One NATO country foreign diplomat based in Kiev told “The Financial Times”, that “This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile.”

There has been considerable speculation that the unregulated and unmonitored flow of billions of dollars of US taxpayer provided money through Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government provided a perfect mechanism for large scale money laundering.

Even assuming that the Ukrainian missile strike on Poland was due to some malfunction, Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true.

He is using his contrived narrative to dramatically expand the war by creating a situation which would bring NATO directly into the conflict and which could easily go nuclear.

Indeed, he is attempting to compel NATO participation.

Beyond that, the US and NATO, burdened with such an “ally,” should take immediate steps to disengage from supporting the fighting and call for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

To be sure, Zelensky is capable of anything and no lie is too mendacious for the former comedy actor who is now basking in the glow of his celebrity, writes Philip Giraldi.

International Affairs

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Iran’s Parliament approves bill on accession to SCO

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Iran’s Parliament has approved by a majority vote a bill on the Islamic republic’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), according TASS information.

205 parliamentarians voted for the bill, 3 voted against and 4 abstained.

On September 30, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a bill on the country’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the Young Journalists Club news agency, Raisi sent the bill to the country’s parliament for consideration.

Iran signed a memorandum on liabilities for joining the Organization.

The Organization’s summit in Uzbekistan on September 15-16 launched the procedure of admitting Belarus as a full-fledged member.

Egypt and Qatar were granted a dialogue partner status, while Bahrain, Kuwait, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia began the procedure for obtaining this status.

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