By Martin Geissler | ITN News,
Hunger is once again threatening vast swathes of Africa because of drought and high food prices. The United Nations has estimated that 14 million are at risk and at the heart of the looming catastrophe is Ethiopia, where over 10 million are in need of emergency food aid.
Ethiopia has appealed for $325m (£167m) in food and other humanitarian aid after drought and crop failure more than doubled the number of people needing emergency assistance to 4.6 million.
Poor rains have affected much of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia since last year, significantly cutting harvests. The shortage of local cereals has sent prices soaring, while the cost of imported food has also risen sharply due to the global food crisis and increased fuel prices.
Aid agencies said hundreds of thousands of the country’s poorest families can no longer afford to buy enough food to sustain them. According to the UN, which issued the appeal to donors yesterday together with Ethiopia’s disaster prevention and preparedness agency, 75,000 children are already suffering from acute malnutrition and illness.
“The urgency of this launch cannot be overstated,” said John Holmes, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator. “Humanitarian agencies are already on the ground helping the government of Ethiopia respond to the emergency, but limited resources are hampering the efforts of both the government and its humanitarian partners to help those in need.”