UN agency issues urgent appeal to feed millions of drought-stricken Ethiopians

UN agency issues urgent appeal to feed millions of drought-stricken Ethiopians

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently appealed today for $205 million to provide relief food to millions of drought-affected Ethiopians for another year..

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently appealed today for $205 million to provide relief food to millions of drought-affected Ethiopians for another year.

“As we inch closer to July and the start of the ‘hungry season,’ it is crucial that food aid reaches farmers and their families who are set to exhaust their food reserves,” Georgia Shaver, WFP Country Representative in Ethiopia, said in Addis Ababa. “These people’s survival will hinge on food aid arriving not only quickly, but in sufficient quantities.”

Under its extended operation, WPF will require 480,000 tons of food aid to cover the needs of 4.6 million people until March 2004 – and avoid a potential break in food supplies in August. The agency has been scaling up its relief distributions and feeding 4.4 million people since last year, when inadequate and poorly dispersed rain greatly reduced Ethiopia’s food production, bringing the very real risk of large-scale starvation.

So far, donors have provided more than 70 per cent of the total 1.4 million tons of food aid that Ethiopia requires for 2003. In total, up to 11.3 million rural Ethiopians currently rely on a continued flow of international relief assistance for survival. Those not covered by the WFP emergency operation will receive food aid through donations to the Ethiopian Government’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

WPF, the world’s largest humanitarian agency, feeds around 80 million people every year in 82 countries, including most of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people. Today the agency thanked the Japanese Government for a donation of $84.5 million for refugees, internally displaced people and victims of natural disasters in Africa, Asia, the Near East and Latin America.

“We are particularly encouraged by the timeliness and magnitude of this donation,” WFP Executive Director James T. Morris said in a statement in Rome. “At a time when the world’s attention is focused on Iraq, it is vital that the needy in other parts of the world are not forgotten.”

Some $30 million of the donation will go to WFP operations in Africa, where almost 40 million people face chronic hunger, exacerbated by conflict, weather-related disasters and poor economic management. Millions of Africans have been displaced or are living as refugees and depend on stable food supplies for survival.