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Archive for September 21st, 2008

What About Ethiopia?

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According to reports, the Ethiopian government is deliberately manipulating food aid to use against separatist rebels in the Ogaden region, which results in mass starvation and famine, The Times has more details:

“Ethiopia has been accused of deliberately underestimating the scale of a deadly drought facing millions of its people, some of whom are being deprived of emergency food aid by the country’s military.

The humanitarian crisis, caused by three years of failed rains, currently affects about 4.6 million people, though the official number could jump to as high as 6.7 million this week.

United Nations agencies say that the real number at risk is above 8 million, an estimate disputed hotly by Addis Ababa, which is insisting on publishing a much lower figure.

“The figure has risen very substantially, maybe even doubled,” said Sir John Holmes, the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, who visited Ethiopia earlier this month. “Any government doesn’t want to be perceived as always in the position of receiving aid.”

Nomadic tribes there are resorting to eating dead leaves and cactus fruit to survive the worst drought since the famines of 1984-85, when an estimated one million Ethiopians died.

A twenty-mile trek on foot into the bush revealed mediaeval mud-hut villages, where ethnic Somali herdsmen say that their children have died after eating poisonous buds from trees, for lack of anything else to eat. Others say that they depend on camel milk and meat because cattle, sheep and goats have perished in their thousands.

“I am ill and hungry,” said one man, removing his shirt to reveal his rib cage visible through taut skin. “Because of the drought we have nothing to eat. The only people who receive food are the military forces.”

The UN has raised about 60 per cent of $325 million (£181 million) it is seeking in emergency relief for Ethiopia and says that it is suffering a shortfall of about 300,000 tonnes of aid.

The WFP has told donors that it blames Ethiopia’s “delays in recognising the extent of need” for causing the rapid depletion of existing food stocks. But a Channel 4 News investigation tonight claims that the army has withheld food from villages in the Ogaden deliberately as part of a “scorched earth” policy against separatist rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)
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Written by modernityblog

21/09/2008 at 02:28

Posted in Uncategorized