UN agencies drastically revise appeal as Ethiopian drought intensifies

12 June 2008

United Nations relief agencies and the Ethiopian Government have drastically increased their appeal for funding to help people caught up in the country’s drought and the resulting widespread crop failures as the number of Ethiopians affected by the crisis continues to soar.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that more than $325 million is now needed to meet aid demands – nearly five times the $68 million that authorities and aid officials estimated was required just two months ago.

Emergency food supplies, water, sanitation, agricultural assistance and health-care are all priority items in the appeal, which is aimed at assisting 4.6 million people, a leap from the estimated figure of 2.2 million a few months ago.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes warned that some 75,000 children, already suffering acute malnutrition and illness, will deteriorate further unless there the world responds “quickly and seriously” to the crisis.

“The urgency of this launch cannot be overstated,” said Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Humanitarian agencies are already on the ground helping the Government of Ethiopia respond to the emergency, but limited resources are hampering the efforts of both the Government and its humanitarian partners to help those in need.”

Southern and south-eastern Ethiopia are among the hardest-hit areas, with humanitarian assistance most needed in three administrative states: Oromia, Somali Region and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR).

Seasonal rains have either failed completely or been extremely poor in many parts of the Horn of Africa country, hurting crop production, the availability of pastures and the raising of livestock. Rising food prices are also exacerbating the situation.

Mr. Holmes added that he was confident that Ethiopian authorities would facilitate the increased presence of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to deal with the crisis.


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