Top of the Morning: Russia Ready to Back Kofi Annan’s Syria Plan; Food Crisis Hits Chad; Iraq Bombings Kills Scores

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service — DAWNS Digest.

Breaking: Russia Ready to Back Security Council Plan for Syria

This is potentially huge news. After several months of wrangling, it would appear that Russia is finally prepared to back Security Council action on Syria. Kofi Annan briefed the Council on Friday in a closed door session, and the council is scheduled to discuss his proposals today. It seems that Russia is lending its support to Annan’s effort. “Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the resolution shouldn’t turn into an ultimatum to the Syrian government, setting the stage for tough bargaining over the wording of the document at the U.N. Security Council. But Lavrov’s statement appeared to indicate a shift in Moscow’s stance, showing signs of impatience with Syrian President Bashar Assad…Lavrov said that Annan’s proposals should now be revealed, adding that Moscow stands ready to back a U.N. Security Council resolution supporting it. “The Security Council should support them not as an ultimatum, but as a basis for the continuing efforts by Kofi Annan aimed at reaching accord between all the Syrians, the government and all opposition groups on all key issues, such as humanitarian corridors, halting hostilities by all parties, the beginning of a political dialogue and offering access to the media,’ Lavrov said at a news conference following the talks in Moscow with his Lebanese counterpart.”  (Time

The Sahel Food Crisis that Everyone has Been Warning About? It has Come.

The international community has been warning for several months about an impending food crisis in the Sahel region. It seems that “impending” may no longer be an operative word. It’s here. And the Kanem region of Chad is where it is first hitting. “Child malnutrition rates have soared in the region of Kanem, which is now in the grip of a full blown emergency, Action Contre La Faim (ACF) said. Kanem is one of the first areas to be affected by a looming crisis in the Sahel region where some 15 million people in half a dozen countries risk hunger in the coming months. More than 2,000 children in Kanem were admitted to nutrition treatment centres in February alone, triple the number treated in December, according to ACF. ‘For the people in Kanem the emergency is already here,’ ACF spokeswoman Lucile Grosjean said. ‘I was at a therapeutic centre and two children died because they arrived very late. They were in such a bad shape that it wasn’t possible for us (ACF) to save their lives,’ she told AlertNet by phone from Kanem’s main town of Mao. Aid agencies have warned for months of an impending food crisis in the semi-arid belt south of the Sahara desert following drought and poor harvests. The United Nations estimates at least 15 million people in the Sahel could be affected, including 3.6 million in Chad, 5.4 million in Niger, 3 million in Mali, 1.7 million in Burkina Faso and hundreds of thousands in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania respectively.” (AlertNet

Wave of Attacks in 8 Iraq Cities Kill Nearly 50

The Arab League Summit is to be held next week in Bagdhad. This does not augur well. “A torrent of bombings and shootings ripped across eight Iraqi cities on Tuesday, targeting police and Shiite pilgrims and killing 46 people. The deadly wave undermined the government’s hopes for stability ahead of next week’s meeting of the Arab world’s top leaders. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which also wounded more than 200 people. But authorities have feared al-Qaida or its Sunni sympathizers would try to thwart this year’s Arab League summit. The gathering is to be held in Iraq for the first time in a generation. Plans for Baghdad to host the meeting last year were postponed, in part because of concerns about Iraq’s security. In all, eight cities were hit Tuesday in what appeared to be coordinated attacks against police and government officials. One of the deadliest strikes came in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, where officials said two car bombs exploded in a crowded shopping and restaurant area.” (WaPo