12 million people face possible famine in Horn of Africa, UN warns
30 March -- Over 12 million people may require emergency food assistance due to drought in the Greater Horn of Africa, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.
The food agency said that other factors were also affecting the humanitarian situation in the region, such as ongoing armed conflicts and the presence of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people.
Through its current relief operations, WFP plans to provide some 370,000 metric tonnes of food to 6.1 million drought-affected people in the region, but estimates that 940,000 metric tones of assistance may be needed for the year 2000.
Speaking at a press conference today in New York, the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Carolyn McAskie, announced that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had appointed WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini as his Special Envoy on the drought in the region.
Ms. Bertini will travel to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Eritrea in April following meetings with Mr. Annan in Rome next week, Ms. McAskie said. On her trip, the WFP chief would be accompanied by members of the press to try to raise international awareness about the deteriorating situation and the need for food aid over the next few months.
"This catastrophe can be averted with the right type of donor assistance," Ms. McAskie said. "This is why the Secretary-General is taking preemptive action and appointing Ms. Bertini as his Special Envoy to travel to the region."
According to WFP, Ethiopia is the hardest hit, accounting for 80 per cent of the overall food requirement. The other affected countries include Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda.