UN agency seeks $460 million to feed Ethiopians hit by drought, high food prices

22 September 2008

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for $460 million to feed 9.6 million people affected by drought and high food prices in Ethiopia for the next six months.

“The Horn of Africa region is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1984, and Ethiopia is caught in the middle,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “We know what needs to be done – we just need the funds to go out and do our job, protecting the hungry.”

Around a quarter of those in need – some 2 million people – live in the arid Somali Region of Ethiopia where it has not rained for three years. Pastoralist communities in the region have already lost half of their cattle herds. Many people are skipping meals and parents are pulling children out of school so that they can help to beg in towns or scour the countryside for food.

“Millions of people are in extreme distress and urgently need food and nutrition,” said Ms. Sheeran.

Neighbouring Somalia is facing an equally dire humanitarian situation, with over 3 million people – almost half the population – affected by drought, high food prices and conflict.

Last week UN humanitarian chief John Holmes warned that the Horn of Africa is facing a humanitarian crisis, with as many as 17 million people, including 3 million children, in urgent need of food and other critical assistance over the coming months.

WFP also noted that 90 per cent of its food deliveries to Somalia arrive by sea, but attacks by pirates are disrupting supply lines and discouraging ship owners from making the journey.

A Canadian naval vessel that has been escorting ships carrying humanitarian aid will withdraw its support on 27 September, and no nation has yet volunteered to take over this role, the agency said.


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