U.N. says millions of Ethiopians need food aid
CNN- January 28, 2000
Web posted at: 12:35 PM EST (1735 GMT)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) -- The United Nations said on Friday
that more than eight million Ethiopians will need emergency food aid this year
and appealed to donors for $190 million to finance the operation.
U.N. officials in Addis Ababa said a long drought in some areas and
excessive rains in others had battered food production and many families
had no alternative means of survival because their livestock had either died
or been sold.
"The situation now is very serious," said Judith Lewis, country director of the
U.N. World Food Programme (WFP). "We will need a lot of food,
especially in the next six months, to address the immediate food needs."
Experts say Ethiopia's grain harvest fell to 10.7 million tonnes last year from
11.4 million in 1998 and was about two million tonnes short of what is
needed to feed the country's 60 million people.
This year's emergency food relief will target over eight million Ethiopians and
about 250,000 foreign refugees -- mainly from neighboring Somalia and
Foreign donors sent food aid to almost seven million Ethiopians last year but
while it helped avert a disaster, the underlying food shortage was
exacerbated by fresh crop failures.
"If adequate assistance is slow in arriving, the crisis will not only return but
will be much larger in magnitude and severity and certainly more costly and
difficult to mitigate," the U.N. said in a statement on Friday.
There have been recent reports of several young children dying every day in
eastern Ethiopia from diseases such as dysentery.
About one million people are believed to have died in a drought which
ravaged Ethiopia in 1984-85. The government of the time would not admit
to the disaster so food assistance came too late to save many victims.
Much of the Horn of Africa and eastern Africa has been hit by drought over
the past two years, partly due to the La Nina weather phenomenon which
cools sea surface temperatures, leading to lower rainfalls.
In a separate appeal on Friday, the U.N. said it would need $42.8 million to
help around 600,000 people in neighboring Eritrea this year. About $27.9
million would go to food aid and the rest to non-food items.
Most of the beneficiaries of the aid programme have been pushed from their
homes by a 21-month-old border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
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