UN seeks $460m in Ethiopian aid

The United Nations appealed on Monday for $460-million to feed about 10-million Ethiopians hit by drought and high food prices.

“The Horn of Africa region is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1984, and Ethiopia is caught in the middle,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

“We know what needs to be done—we just need the funds to go out and do our job, protecting the hungry.”

He said the funds were needed to feed about 9,6-million people until early 2009.

About a quarter of those in need live in the arid east of Ethiopia, where it has not rained for three years, added WFP, which relies on donor nations for funds.

“Pastoralist communities in the region have already lost half of their cattle herds. People are skipping meals and parents are pulling children out of school so that they can help to beg in towns or scour the countryside for food,” WFP added.

In neighbouring Somalia, about 3,25-million people face hunger because of drought, food prices and conflict, WFP said.

The agency said 90% of its food deliveries to Somalia were going by sea, but pirate attacks were jeopardising that.

“A Canadian naval vessel that has been escorting ships carrying humanitarian aid will withdraw its support on September 27, and no nation has yet volunteered to take over this protective role,” it said.—Reuters

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