06 January 2016, The Tablet

Aid desperately needed as famine in Ethiopia is worsening, claims Catholic charity

8.2 million people in need of emergency aid as El Nino takes its toll

Emergency aid has been rushed to Ethiopia by Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, as reports suggest the famine affecting millions has worsened.

The UN has warned that 8.2 million people are in need of emergency food aid, as the country struggles with the worst drought in 50 years.

Father Haile Gabriel Meleku, Deputy Secretary General of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said he feared the number threatened by famine in the country could be much higher than this estimate.

Saying “the catastrophe can be felt everywhere”, Fr Meleku warned of conflict in the struggle for dwindling resources and described an increasing movement of people trying to find food and water, with children missing school and the death of cattle and other livestock.

In response to the crisis, ACN will provide £330,000 in emergency aid across all 13 famine-stricken dioceses.

The current conditions, caused by the erratic global weather pattern ‘El Nino’, has been compared to that of 1984, where drought, compounded by political unrest, developed into severe famine, killing more than a million people.

In contrast to the 80s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests Ethiopia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. However, the UN’s National Human Development Report 2015 shows Ethiopia remains vulnerable.

The UN report shows that despite agricultural modernisation initiatives, around 90 per cent of crops rely solely on rain and, despite the dramatic reduction of Ethiopia’s poverty rate between 2005 and 2012, the number of absolute poor remains at 25 million due to an increasing population.

The UN launched an appeal for £225 million in aid in October of last year, it has been suggested another £500 million will be needed if the crisis continues to worsen.

In 2014 ACN gave £800,000 in support of projects across Ethiopia.



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