Category: "Food Shortage"

ETHIOPIA: Gov’t rejects politicized food aid claims

November 27th, 2009
Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN Some 6.2 million people in Ethiopia are deemed by the UN to need relief food (file photo)

ETHIOPIA: Gov’t rejects politicized food aid claims

ADDIS ABABA, (IRIN)
- The Ethiopian government has vehemently rejected accusations that it has excluded some opposition supporters from a food-for-work programme, charges that are the focus of growing international concern in the run-up to elections in 2010.

"Such complaints are totally baseless! Totally baseless,” said State Minister for Disaster Management and Food Security Mitiku Kasa, adding that he had investigated the matter.

"Government has no intention to discriminate [against] the poor based on such grounds. After all, it is the community [that] is mandated to select who should be involved in the [productive safety net, or food-for-work] programme,” he said.

"The programme targets the community and government doesn't get involved in the selection process. It has nothing to do with politics or political ideology. It’s all absolutely owned by the community. It is the community [that] has a say in this programme," he said.

One of the government’s chief accusers is Medrek Gebru Asrat, spokesman for the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia, a coalition of eight parties that analysts say is well placed to challenge the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

"The government is trying to control which party people join. Food aid should not be used as a political weapon," Gebru said.

Earlier this month, Britain’s State Minister for Development Gareth Thomas called on Ethiopian authorities to look into the charges that food aid had been withheld from opposition supporters to force them to back the ruling party.

"I have heard allegations from the international community about distribution of food aid and the [food-for-work] programme and I have already raised those accusations with the deputy prime minister," Thomas told reporters in Addis Ababa.

Thomas said Britain had made no decision to suspend aid to Ethiopia but that it could take "tough decisions" if necessary.

Britain donated 71 million pounds (US$119 million) to the food-for-work scheme this year, making it the second-largest donor after the World Bank.

The United States has also raised similar concerns that its humanitarian aid does reach all those most in need.

“The US Government is aware of the recent complaints. USAID personnel in Ethiopia are increasing field visits to observe distribution dynamics with specific attention to these allegations,” read the statement from the US government.

Some 6.2 million people in Ethiopia are deemed by the UN to need relief food, while another seven million benefit from the government-administered productive safety net programme.

U.S. to Increase Inspections of Food Aid to Ethiopia

November 21st, 2009

U.S. to Increase Inspections of Food Aid to Ethiopia

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg)
--

The U.S. will increase inspections of food aid deliveries to Ethiopians after complaints by members of the country’s opposition that its members are routinely denied access to foreign aid, a U.S. State Department official said.

“We are very much concerned about it,” Karl Wycoff, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told reporters today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. “We are aware of the reports and we take such reports very, very seriously.”

President Barack Obama’s administration is also worried that the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government is cracking down on political freedoms ahead of national elections slated for May, Wycoff said.


Read Full Story from Bloomberg News

25 years after Live Aid, Ethiopia tries to cover up a new famine

November 18th, 2009

25 years after Live Aid, Ethiopia tries to cover up a new famine

Times

It wasn’t famine that killed Jamal Ali’s mother. She died in a cholera outbreak that swept through their Ethiopian village when at last the rains came. Twenty-five years later Jamal, now a parent himself, is lining up for handouts in a food distribution centre in Harbu, Amhara, His prematurely aged face, hollow with hunger, creases further when asked about this unwelcome return. “It is a very bitter feeling. No one likes this begging. I am ashamed,” he said.


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Ethiopia should probe political food aid claim: UK

November 18th, 2009

Ethiopia should probe political food aid claim: UK

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 17 (Reuters)
- Ethiopia should investigate allegations that local officials are keeping food aid from opposition members to force them to join the ruling party ahead of national elections, a British aid minister said on Tuesday.

An opposition coalition last week said its members were being refused places on a long-running food-for-work scheme for more than 7 million hungry people to force them to join the governing party before the elections in May next year.

"I have heard allegations from the international community about distribution of food aid and the (food-for-work) programme and I have already raised those accusations with the deputy prime minister," Gareth Thomas, Britain's state minister for development, told a news conference in Addis Ababa.

"These allegations should be investigated thoroughly. The government said if evidence is produced that they would investigate and that was encouraging."

Thomas said Britain had made no decision to suspend aid to Ethiopia -- one of the world's poorest countries -- but that it could take "tough decisions" if necessary.

Britain donated 71 million pounds ($119 million) to the food-for-work scheme this year, making it the second largest donor after the World Bank.

The Ethiopian government says 6.2 million people will need emergency food aid this year and has appealed to the international community for help. With 7 million also on the food-for-work scheme, that means that more than 13 million of Ethiopia's 80 million people rely on aid to survive.

Ethiopia's national elections will be held on May 23

Ethiopia: Land of silence and starvation

November 7th, 2009

Ethiopia: Land of silence and starvation

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Journalists are barred from travelling to the countryside to document the drought
  • The government restricts aid agencies to do their own independent assessments of malnutrition
  • Maoist-style neighbourhood committees watch over all activity in the villages

By Geoffrey York

A famine is growing across Ethiopia, but the government is clamping down on information - even ejecting aid agencies that could help bring aid for fear of provoking unrest and losing their grip on power

On market day in the dusty town of Meki, the few cobs of corn sold by the hawkers are scrawny, pale, scabby and pockmarked. Yet the price of this meagre food has doubled since last year – because so many farmers have seen their corn harvests fail.

Read Complete Report from Globe and Mail

An aid worker said
“The government is locked into a cycle of very significant denial,” he said. “It’s playing with millions of lives.”