News / Africa

WFP: Ethiopia's Emergency Food Reserve Near Zero

Multimedia

Audio

The head of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) in Ethiopia says the country's emergency food stocks are almost completely exhausted, with drought conditions expected to worsen before they improve.  There are also growing concerns about food shortages in Ethiopia's reclusive neighbor, Eritrea.

WFP's Ethiopia Country Director Abdou Dieng says despite a good response to international appeals for food aid, Ethiopia faces a critical shortfall in emergency supplies.  He says the reserve established by the government to prevent a recurrence of past food crises is almost empty.

"There is food reserve, but today it's almost at zero level. We cannot count on that. Now what we are trying to do is increase the level of the food which can be kept in the reserve.  We can go up to one million tons [and] we're talking about 80 million people here who need food, so this is exactly where we are working together to try to increase the food reserve," noted Dieng.

Of Ethiopia's 80 million people, Dieng says between 13 million and 14 million are receiving some sort of food assistance. The government estimates 4.5 million need emergency food aid, but experts expect that number to keep rising until the rains come, allowing farmers to plant and harvest life saving crops.

The WFP official says $200 million in donations has been received since the onset of the current drought. Dieng estimates another $100 million will be necessary to meet Ethiopia's needs until the end of the year.

Dieng also said the WFP is monitoring reports filtering out of Eritrea suggesting food shortages there as well.  The reports are hard to verify, and Eritrea's autocratic government has denied the drought is affecting food supplies.  But satellite images indicate the country is affected by the same weather pattern that has victimized much of the Horn of Africa.

Dieng says Eritrean refugees arriving at camps in northern Ethiopia are saying the Asmara, Eritrea, government tries to prevent them from leaving, and that conditions are deteriorating.

"All this is speculation," Dieng added.  "What we know is you can't have a drought in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya in a certain area and not having the same [nearby]. But what we heard from the government in Eritrea, they say there is no problem when it comes to food aid in Eritrea.  But for people crossing the border and coming into Ethiopia that we interview, we know there is some problem, and we are monitoring that very closely."

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson last month said many Eritrean refugees fleeing to Ethiopia are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition.  He urged officials in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, to cooperate with U.N. agencies and international organizations to address the issues of hunger and food shortages.

The WFP's Dieng estimates the number of Eritrean refugees at camps in northern Ethiopia at a few thousand.  That is nowhere near as large as the more than 150,000 Somali refugees in southern and eastern Ethiopia, and the even larger numbers in Kenya.

He says the U.N. agency technically maintains an office in Asmara, but has not had any international staff there since 2005, and is not able to monitor conditions in the nation of 5 million.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs