Ethiopia: UN appeals for aid as number of drought victims keeps growing

15 October 2008

The United Nations humanitarian wing today called for more than $265 million to fund relief operations in drought-stricken Ethiopia for the next three months to meet the widening scale of the crisis, with some 6.4 million people now estimated to need urgent assistance.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that a recent joint assessment by Ethiopian authorities and the international humanitarian community found that an extra 1.8 million people have been hit hard by the crisis since the last assessment in June.

The biggest increase has been in the country’s south-east, known as the Somali region, where the number of people requiring emergency food aid has almost doubled to 1.9 million since June.

OCHA said a combination of persistent failed rains and increased food prices have left people in need across the Horn of Africa, with the situation made worse by a shortage of emergency supplies.

John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, called for donors worldwide to immediately step up their financial commitments to deal with the crisis.

“As elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, the humanitarian situation in parts of Ethiopia has steadily deteriorated due to drought and skyrocketing food and fuel prices,” he said.

“I am particularly worried about meeting the needs of the more than 17 million people in the greater Horn of Africa, especially those of malnourished children and their mothers.”

Mr. Holmes, who is also the Emergency Relief Coordinator for the UN, has warned that if hoped-for rains between now and December do not materialize, the crisis will be prolonged into much of next year.

At least $218 million of the funds sought by OCHA and Ethiopia now is designated to pay for an estimated 270,000 tons of food aid needed through December, with most of the remainder going to cover health, nutrition, water and sanitation, agriculture and livestock support.


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