Category: "Food Shortage"

UN calls for long-term solution to Ethiopia's drought crisis

July 9th, 2011

UN calls for long-term solution to Ethiopia's drought crisis

Source: AFP

— The UN's emergency relief coordinator on Saturday called for long-term solutions to curb the effects of a severe drought in Ethiopia.

"We need to plan for the long term to help people rebuild their communities when the situation improves," Valerie Amos told reporters in Addis Ababa.

She cited better access to water, health care and education as key after spending the day in Ethiopia's Somali region, one of the worst-affected areas of the country.

The UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator emphasized the need for improved security in drought-affected regions so relief agencies can reach vulnerable populations.

She met with Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to draw up a plan to ensure access to the country's most volatile areas. In June, two World Food Program workers were detained for over a month in Somali region, also known as Ogaden.

The UN emergency relief agency reports 3.2 million people in Ethiopia depend on food assistance.

The Horn of Africa is currently facing the most severe drought in 60 years, according to the UN, affecting more than 10 million people.

The relief agency will also attempt to provide emergency aid in Somalia after Shebab Islamists announced they would allow access to humanitarian agencies.

"(That) is something we have to test to see whether we will be able to deliver that urgently needed aid into Somalia itself," Amos said.

The drought in Ethiopia is not only affecting crops, but is forcing pastoralists from their communities in search of water.

"Everyone I met spoke of the lack of water and the impact it is having on their day-to-day lives. Their very way of life is at risk," Amos said.

The UN and other relief agencies are struggling to respond to the crisis in light of funding shortfalls and called on the international community for increased aid.

Ethiopia has received $234.4 million to address the crisis, only 77 percent of the amount required, according to the UN.

Horn of Africa crisis overwhelms aid efforts on the Ethiopia-Somalia border, urgent help needed

July 8th, 2011

Horn of Africa crisis overwhelms aid efforts on the Ethiopia-Somalia border, urgent help needed

Source: UNHCR

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 8 July 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is warning today that humanitarian efforts to help newly arriving Somali refugees in south-east Ethiopia are at risk of being overwhelmed without a more rapid and robust international response to the drought and displacement crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, visited the Dollo Ado area of south-east Ethiopia on Thursday. He heard from mothers who had lost children during the journey from central Somalia. He witnessed the anguish of people who had been forced to leave sick family members behind. He also spoke to humanitarian workers who deal with the new arrivals, and urged them to speed up help to the most needy.

Since the start of the year, 54,000 Somalis have crossed into this area of Ethiopia. Rates of arrival have accelerated in recent weeks to around 1,700 people per day. Malnutrition rates are alarmingly high among the most recent arrivals. At least 50 per cent of children are either moderately or severely malnourished. Similar rates are being recorded in Kenya.

Humanitarian agencies and the government refugee structure are struggling to cope with the inflow. Currently, the number of arrivals in the Dollo Ado area is outpacing registration capacity. Systems for meeting the food and health needs are close to buckling. Electricity for pumping water to camps is in short supply because overcast skies mean solar panels can't produce enough energy. A new camp in the area, at Kobe, was opened several weeks ago. But it is already nearing its full capacity of 20,000 people. All these problems can be addressed if we receive adequate resources.

During yesterday's visit, the High Commissioner's delegation saw large numbers of new arrivals waiting for registration and ration cards. Most of the newcomers are from the Bay region of Somalia, to the west of Mogadishu. In some cases, people were said to have walked for up to 30 days to reach safety in Dollo Ado.

The drought crisis in the Horn of Africa is affecting Ethiopia, Kenya, and central and southern Somalia. However it is in Somalia that its impact has been most pronounced. There, the fall in crop production has led to higher food prices. The situation for the civilian population is further compounded by an offensive by pro-government forces starting in February against Al-Shabaab insurgents near the Kenya and Ethiopia borders.

High Commissioner Guterres told reporters that humanitarian efforts were needed inside Somalia so that people didn't have to leave the country to receive help. However, conflict prevents this from happening.


Meanwhile in neighbouring Kenya, some 1,400 new Somali refugees continue to arrive in Dadaab refugee complex every day. Eighty per cent of them are women and children.

Our top priorities are to address the malnutrition and overcrowding in the camps. There is an urgent need for medical staff and nutritional items such as high energy and high protein therapeutic meals. The main challenge is to receive and rapidly stabilize Somali refugees arriving in extremely poor health conditions. Malnutrition rates among Somali children under the age of five arriving in Dadaab are around 30 per cent.

The existing three camps – Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagadera – were initially built for some 90,000 refugees in the early 1990s. They are now hosting four times that number. The new arrivals are pitching tents on the outskirts of the camps. Our teams in Dadaab estimate that some 65,000 Somali refugees live in these makeshift sites. We have been providing emergency health services and temporary shelter, pitching tents, trucking in water and installing more water taps.

We estimate that a quarter of Somalia's 7.5 million population is now either internally displaced or living outside the country as refugees. The drought is compounded by prevailing violence in southern and central parts of the country.

There are now more than 750,000 Somali refugees living in the region, mostly in neighbouring Kenya (405,000), Yemen (187,000) and Ethiopia (110,000). Another 1.46 million are displaced within Somalia.

Somalis seek refuge from drought in Ethiopia

July 8th, 2011

Somalis seek refuge from drought in Ethiopia

By Martin Plaut Africa editor, BBC World Service

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says more than 110,000 Somalis have arrived at the remote camps at Dolo Ado in south-eastern Ethiopia.

The camps are already severely overcrowded, but another 1,600 people are arriving every day.

They are weak with hunger, having walked for days with malnourished children to cross from Somalia.

But the WFP's Judith Schuler says many are too weak or too poor to make the journey.

Some 12 million people need food aid after rains failed for the second year running across the Horn of Africa.

Getting food to the camps around the Dolo Ado in the remote south-eastern region of Ethiopia involves a long and dangerous journey.

Some 50 trucks a month make the trip, which requires bringing food from Djibouti to the Ethiopian town of Nazareth, and then down to the camps, close to the Kenyan border.

Making the 10-day journey is not without danger.

In May, vehicles were attacked by rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a rebel group fighting for greater rights for the ethnic Somali region of eastern Ethiopia.

One person was killed, another injured and two taken captive. They have only just been released.

But says the WFP, the drivers are determined to continue making the hazardous journey.
Left to die

Many Somalis have walked for days to get to the camps.

"One other woman told me, and that's what really marked me, is 'look we have arrived here and we are the lucky ones because there are many that couldn't afford the trip and basically had to stay behind'," Ms Schuler told the BBC.

So what fate faces those Somalis who are unable to make the journey?

"I think many of them will probably fight for their survival with the last means they have," Ms Schuler said.

Are many of those left behind likely to die?

"Yes, that's what the people who are arriving told me," Ms Schuler replied.

Triangle of hunger batters millions in E. Africa

July 7th, 2011
Photo AP

Triangle of hunger batters millions in E. Africa

WAJIR, Kenya (AP)
— Thousands of families are walking for days in search of food in a triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet. Hundreds already have died, and images of children with skinny, malnourished bodies are becoming commonplace in this corner of Africa.

Even Somalia's top militant group is asking the aid agencies it once banned from its territories to return. Thirsty livestock are dying by the thousands, and food prices have risen beyond what many families can afford.

Hawo Ibrahim said she and her seven children trekked 15 days from a town in southern Somalia before reaching a refugee camp in northeast Kenya.

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Ethiopia Media Blackout: Walta, ENA ignore 3.2 million starving Ethiopians

July 4th, 2011

Ethiopia Media Blackout: Walta, ENA ignore 3.2 million starving Ethiopians

3.2 million Ethiopians, mostly in the South and South Easter part of country, are facing severe food shortage, according to figures from the United Nations and aid agencies. The UK government has pledged £38 million, enough to feed 1.3 million people. The disaster affecting the Horn of Africa is described by aid agencies as one of the worst drought ever seen in the region in over 60 years. 10 million people in the region are facing severe hunger including Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia. Some warn that famine could follow soon unless aid arrives urgently.

The disaster was a lead story on BBC World Service on Sunday, several British media and others had extensive coverage of the looming crisis. But the state media in Ethiopia and Walta, the mouthpiece of the ruling party, are silent on the story. The TPLF government has been in power for over 20 years now in Ethiopia and like its predecessor, it has failed miserably to feed its own people. The state media in Ethiopia is notorious for media blackout of stories it deems will portray the government in a negative light.

The starvation and the secrecy surround it by the government exactly mirrors what the military dictatorship of Mengistu Hailemariaum used to do. After 20 years of rule under TPLF government, Ethiopia is still unable to feed itself. What is different from the Derg regime is, the crisis has shifted from the north of the country to the south.