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Hunger Relief Concert Staged in Ethiopia - 2003-05-26


In Ethiopia Sunday, some of the country's top musicians held a hunger-relief concert. Everyone in the crowd of thousands was asked to donate the equivalent of about 12 U.S. cents.

A severe drought is threatening at least 14 million Ethiopians with starvation.

Such a concert would have been unthinkable under Ethiopia's former communist regime, which nearly 20 years ago tried to hide a devastating famine from the world. One million people died.

Now Ethiopia, one of the world's poorest countries, is facing its worst food shortage since the mid-80s. Newsline’s Hayley Sterling reports.

This is what starvation does to a four year old. Little Adisu is too weak to generate any heat so he shivers uncontrollably. A medical worker does what he can in this makeshift clinic with few resources.

NATURAL SOUND – MAN ASKING A QUESTION
"Have you ever seen anything like this before?”

MEDICAL WORKER
“No, Never.”

And the hunger is all around. There are many other children like Adisu, brought here by mothers who have no food at home.

These women have also run out of food so these monthly rations are a critical lifeline.

The scale of the disaster is enormous. For the last two years almost every part of the country has experienced drought. There was some rain last month, but the harvest is three months away. Until then, 14 million people must be fed every day.

AURELIA BRAZEAL
“We think because of the numbers of people affected that it’s clearly approaching a worst case scenario."

Food aid is starting to reach the hardest hit areas. The United States alone has already sent 700 thousand tons of food to Ethiopia. But still there is a shortfall. The US and other countries are being asked to send more.

GEORGIA SHAVER
“This is a crises that maybe been forgotten, shouldn't be forgotten and we need to respond to it quickly, efficiently and with everything we've got.”

More is desperately needed. Amarea is down to her last food reserves. She is a afraid that it will only be matter of weeks before she too will have to take her youngest child to the emergency feeding center.

And the stakes here are very high. Ten-year-old Aster died yesterday.

Adisu's mother Dima doesn't know what will happen to her son.

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