Musician Bob Geldof visits Ethiopia on new UN-facilitated mercy mission

Musician Bob Geldof visits Ethiopia on new UN-facilitated mercy mission

With Ethiopia facing an even more complex humanitarian crisis, musician and activist Bob Geldof returned today to the drought-stricken country on a new mercy mission, facilitated by the United Nations, for the first time since his landmark visit 20 years ago launched a world-wide campaign to save the East African nation from famine.

“What we have here is a much more complex emergency than the drought crisis of 20 years ago,” said Bjorn Ljungqvuist, the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Representative in Ethiopia. “This time it is compounded by HIV/AIDS, which has weakened medical systems and coping ability at the family level. UNICEF is grateful for Bob Geldof’s visit right now because it will help draw global attention to the new mix of challenges we must overcome to build a more peaceful, stable world - a world that is truly fit for children.”

Ethiopia is in the midst of a severe humanitarian emergency threatening some 14 million people, most of them children. Drought, flood, malnutrition, disease among children and HIV/AIDS are all part of the complex crisis. Ethiopia is also one of the five poorest countries in the world, with an estimated gross national income of just $100 a year per person.

During his five-day visit, which began today in the capital of Addis Ababa, Mr. Geldof will see first-hand the challenges facing the country. The visit will enable him to witness the current humanitarian crisis and explore the longer-term development challenges that are compounded by debt and trade disadvantages. He will visit UNICEF relief projects for children, speak with government officials and members of the diplomatic community, and meet with other key humanitarian players.

One out of two children in Ethiopia suffers from chronic stunting, and many children die from preventable diseases, according to UNICEF. The visit will include stops at UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centres in the south of the country and water projects and AIDS counselling centres for youth, where he will meet with the young Ethiopians at the forefront of tackling HIV.