“HORN OF AFRICA AT A CRITICAL STAGE,” proclaims the very prominent headline on the homepage of United Nations World Food Program. The urgency is not without reason, as a statement released by Oxfam today underscores.
Facing a “perfect storm” of drought and rising food prices, the number of people in Ethiopia in need of emergency assistance has jumped from 4.6 million to 6.4 million in less than four months. This would be bad enough, but there are 7.2 million additional Ethiopians who receive only some small support from their government.
From Oxfam’s statement: “Today’s figures, terrible as they are, show only half the picture. Over 13.5 million Ethiopians are in need of aid in order to survive. The number of those suffering severe hunger and destitution has spiraled. More can and must be done now to save lives and avert disaster,” said Oxfam’s country director, Waleed Rauf.
Namely, donor countries can step in and provide the $260 million needed for aid efforts in the country. WFP has only received a third of the funds it needs to deliver food, and, without further support, it will likely have to scale back operations to even more dangerous levels.
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UPDATE: Aid agencies say that the number of people in need is even worse.