News / Africa

Ethiopia Says 2.8 Million People Need Emergency Food Aid

Ethiopian child Bizunesh Hidana 3-year-old weighing less than 10 pounds (four kilograms) is seen at an emergency feeding center in southern Ethiopia (File Photo).
Ethiopian child Bizunesh Hidana 3-year-old weighing less than 10 pounds (four kilograms) is seen at an emergency feeding center in southern Ethiopia (File Photo).

Ethiopia’s government estimates 2.8 million people will need emergency food aid this year, down sharply from a year ago. Nearly 40 percent of the needy are reported in the sparsely populated, but insurgency-wracked Somali region.

The good news is that the number of Ethiopians in danger has dropped from 5.2 million a year ago to an estimated 2.8 million this year.

Ethiopia’s State Minister for Agriculture Mitiku Kassa credits two things for the improvement.  One is good weather, which produced a bumper crop in a country where four out of five people earn their living from agriculture.  The other is food aid, which is believed to have reached 12 million of Ethiopia’s 80 million people last year.

But there are worrisome signs. Sitting alongside Mitiku at a news conference, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia Eugene Owusu said the 2.8-million figure tells only part of the story.

"Two-point-eight-million still require relief food assistance," said Owusu. "And we also know an additional 956,000 require targeted supplementary feeding. An estimated 107,000 children may continue to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition, and 3.3 million people will require screening for more nutrition and Vitamin A supplementation."

Another 7.8-million Ethiopians receive food or cash under a preventive program known as the Productive Safety Net.

Owusu said millions of Ethiopians are also at risk of malaria, measles and Acute Watery Diarrhea, which in other places in known as cholera. And he said the onset of a drought in some regions, which forced officials to revise their estimates upward in recent months, is likely to continue.

"Deteriorating food security conditions recorded in the December assessment will only deepen if the drought prevails through the first half of the year, as the latest forecast of the National Meteorological Agency indicates it is likely to do," he added.

The government report indicates almost 40 percent of those nutritionally at risk are in the Somali region, home to less than six percent of the country’s population. Ethiopian troops are engaged in a counter-insurgency operation there against indigenous rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Force.

The group, in e-mail messages, has accused the government of ethnic cleansing and blocking food aid deliveries to rebel-held areas.  The government strongly denies the claims and says the rebel movement is dying, but restricts access to donor groups trying to monitor aid distribution.

State Minister Mitiku says the area of restricted movement includes only a few districts, known as woredas.

"Currently there are only nine woredas that need clearance from the respective authorities to move in these zones," said Mitiku. "The rest, 43 out of 52 are free for movements by the U.N. agencies [and] the NGO agencies who are working in the Somali region."

But aid community representatives are pushing for greater access to the insurgency zone.  U.N. aid coordinator Owusu says local officials often block access to humanitarian workers even in a usually quiet woreda.

"There are instances of localized restrictions, depending on the mood of local officials," said Owusu. "The major restrictions are largely in those high security risk woredas, but my point of departure with the minister would be, even in the other woredas, there are instances of localized restrictions that might not be as stringent as what we experience in the nine high security risk woredas."

The head of the British government’s Department for International Development office in Ethiopia, Howard Taylor,  says aid agencies are often frustrated in attempts to ensure food is reaching the intended recipients.

"It gets better and it gets worse," said Taylor. "It is not a constant. Sometimes the food is getting through and sometimes we know it is not."

Taylor and humanitarian coordinator Owusu say while monitoring aid deliveries is easier than in past years, they are pushing for more fruitful discussions with security authorities to find a way donors can be certain people who need food and water in the insurgency zone are able to get it.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More