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UN: don't forget food crisis in Ethiopia

UN emergency feeding programme draws attention to 3 million Ethiopians

With West Africa’s humanitarian crises hitting the headlines, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called on the international community not to forget Ethiopia, saying more than 3 million people in the Horn of Africa country face persistent hunger and will need emergency food aid in the next several months.

WFP said it recently received less than half of the contributions needed for its 2005-2007 programme in Ethiopia – $325.2 million out of $763 million, while a new report confirmed earlier estimates that because of the poor rains 3.3 million people of the population of 72 million would need food aid in this half of the year and another 2.5 million should be closely monitored.

Twenty years after famine killed an estimated 1 million Ethiopians, hunger has still been looming large in a country where the population growth is among the highest in the world, it said. At feeding centres, children with bloated stomachs sit listlessly before they receive emergency food and vitamins, while in rural villages, prematurely aged, gaunt men and women toil to coax a little food out of their land.

“While the current situation is not as bad as it was in 2003 when poor harvests left many people hungry, WFP and its partners are keeping a close eye on some 40 ‘hunger spots’ across the country in order to avoid any deterioration,” WFP’s country director, Mohamed Diab, said in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“Ethiopia has had five major droughts in just two decades, causing untold deaths, suffering and hardship,” he added.

WFP says innovative food aid projects allow the weak and poor, including people made homeless by natural disasters, returning refugees, HIV/AIDS orphans and jobless mothers, to stop worrying about their next meal and attend to building a sustainable future.

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