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7 Million Ethiopians Need Humanitarian Aid in 04

7 Million Ethiopians Need Humanitarian Aid This Year, Un Envoy Says

Although generous donor response helped avert a major humanitarian disaster in drought-stricken Ethiopia in 2003, millions of people will have to rely on relief aid again this year, the United Nations Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa has said.

"In 2004, 7 million people are still in need of humanitarian assistance, for which donor support continues to be required," Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari said in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday, during a five-day visit to the East African country.

Due to much better rains and crop production, this year's need is a 45 per cent reduction from 2003, he said.

While about 57 per cent of food aid requirements have been pledged so far, amounting to some 490,000 tons, only 20 per cent of required non-food assistance has been made available by donors, mainly for health, water and sanitation, seeds, and capacity strengthening, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "The Government, with its partners, has embarked on an ambitious program to eliminate food insecurity among 5 million chronically food insecure people in the next three to five years," the Special Envoy said.

A "New Coalition for Food and Livelihood Security" must build on the existing partnerships between Government, donors, the UN and other parties that were successful in 2003, while finding long-term development solutions, he added.

The Government's new food security initiatives include a voluntary resettlement programme, which aims to provide access to land during the next three to five years for 2.2 million food-insecure people living on parcels that are too small to provide for them, OCHA said.

Mr. Ahtisaari said resettlement presented challenges, but with adequate resources and adherence to the agreed guidelines, it also provided hope for many vulnerable families.

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