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Oxfam Warns Millions More Ethiopians Going Hungry

Published: Mon 27 Oct 2008 10:31 PM
Oxfam Warns Millions More Ethiopians Going Hungry
More than 13.5 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency aid in order to survive as people face severe hunger and destitution from increasing drought and skyrocketing food prices, says international agency Oxfam.
"The severe hunger being faced by Ethiopians could not have come at a worse time," said Barry Coates Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. "In an international recession it is the poorest that hurt the most. We need the New Zealand public´s support more than ever to help us deliver urgently needed food and water to communities in one of the worst affected regions of Ethiopia."
"The world´s poorest people are already suffering from the effects of high fuel and food prices so their capacity to absorb any other shock is nil. It is critical that we provide the most vulnerable people of Ethiopia with the support they need to feed their children."
The number of Ethiopians needing emergency assistance has leapt by 40 per cent from 4.6 million to 6.4 million people since June, according to latest official figures from the United Nations and the Ethiopian government.
But this only shows half the picture. The revised numbers of those needing emergency assistance is likely to be a conservative estimate and does not include the 7.2 million Ethiopians so chronically poor that they receive cash or food aid from the government every year.
Across the country, Oxfam is currently reaching an estimated 500,000 people with water, food aid and cash-for-work programmes. Oxfam is also helping people to protect and recover their livestock and to secure their livelihoods.
Oxfam is particularly concerned about the situation for pastoralist communities in Afar and Somali regions of Ethiopia. In northern areas the recent minor rains season was patchy and many people will remain dependent on aid until March next year when the next rains are expected. Further south, if the October/November rains are minimal people there will have to hold out until next July.
Numbers in need of help in the Somali region have doubled to nearly two million people since June. Those in need also face huge problems due to loss of their livestock with an average loss of 60 percent of cattle, 50 percent of goats and 40 percent of camels.
In July the UN´s World Food Programme (WFP) had to reduce monthly cereal rations from 15kgs a person to 10kgs. WFP has only received one third of the funds it needs and has an immediate shortfall of 229,587 tonnes of food for the next six months. The UN agency fears the impact of this will include increased malnutrition.
Oxfam New Zealand has today launched an emergency appeal for Ethiopia and welcomes donations from the public. To donate please call 0800 400 666 (24hours), or visit www.oxfam.org.nz to donate online.
ENDS

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