Aid urgently needed to avert serious famine in Ethiopia: Unicef – Geneva (AFP)

June 26th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Humanitarian aid is urgently needed in Ethiopia, where drought and soaring food prices have led to a crisis that could match a severe famine that hit five years ago, a Unicef official said Thursday.

“At the moment it’s not 2003 all over again. At the moment it is very, very serious, but we need to prevent it from escalating into a situation which will be much worse and getting closer to the situation which we’ve seen five years ago,” said Hilde Johnsson, who is Unicef deputy executive director. (more…)

Humanitarian aid is urgently needed in Ethiopia, where drought and soaring food prices have led to a crisis that could match a severe famine that hit five years ago, a Unicef official said Thursday.

“At the moment it’s not 2003 all over again. At the moment it is very, very serious, but we need to prevent it from escalating into a situation which will be much worse and getting closer to the situation which we’ve seen five years ago,” said Hilde Johnsson, who is Unicef deputy executive director.
In 2003, over 12 million people in Ethiopia needed food aid due to a severe famine as crops were destroyed by drought and flash floods.

Johnsson, who had just returned from a four-day trip to the drought-hit African nation, said that 4.6 million people including 75,000 children are now hit by severe acute malnutrition.

“I witnessed children die when I was present at the stabilisation centre. Government officials reported that children were already dying in villages where there was no access to therapeutic feeding,” she said.

In the worst affected areas, children were “at risk of dying in numbers just now as we are sitting here,” she added.

Unicef said it needed 49.2 million dollars (31.3 million euros) to provide emergency aid that should get the country through the two to three immediate months. Only 5.6 million dollars of that has been received.

“The rains are now starting, but we don’t know whether they would be adequate, whether they would last. It all depends on the situation, it’s dynamically changing all the time,” she said.

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