Horn Diplomat

Ethiopia denies emergency food aid will run out within weeks

REUTERS Image caption Drought struck Ethiopia last year too

Ethiopia has denied suggestions by UN officials that it will run out of emergency food aid for millions of people by the end of this month.

The UN’s World Food Programme said 7.8 million people affected by drought would be left without food assistance.

But Ethiopian officials put the number of those affected at 1.7 million and said they would receive new help either from donors or the government.

Ethiopia has been struggling following successive failed rains.

Famine has been declared in South Sudan, and there have been warnings of famine in north-east Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia.

Ethiopia’s commissioner for disaster risk management Mitiku Kassa said: “It’s true that in some areas food will run out by the end of the month but this will only affect around 1.7 million people.

“We expect the donor community to step in to fill that gap and we are hopeful. But if they fail to do that, we will have to use some of our development budget to provide emergency assistance to our people.”

Earlier reports suggested that the Ethiopian government did not have the funds to cope by itself, although analysts have acknowledged it has got better at coping with droughts than in previous years.

The government allocated $381m (£300m) extra over the last two years, but aid experts have questioned whether this can be sustained for a third year.

Ethiopia is in a “dire situation”, according to John Aylieff of the World Food Programme.

“We’ve got food running out nationally at the end of June,” he told reporters on Friday.

“That means the 7.8 million people who are in need of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia will see that distribution cut abruptly at the end of June.”

His words were echoed by John Graham, of Save the Children

He told AFP news agency: “After [the food runs out], we don’t know what is going to happen. And without that basic food then you will have problem falling into severe malnutrition because people are not getting any food.

“These children become severely malnourished and that’s where you have a very dangerous situation.”

SOURCE:BBC

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