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Ethiopia: People in need of food aid surges to 8.5 million

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Wrist-banding of newly-arrived south Sudanese refugees at the Pagak entry point, Gambella. On 4 November 2016 (UNHCR Ethiopia-Photo)
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

August 16, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) – The number of people who require humanitarian assistance in the second half of 2017 has increased to 8.5 million from 5.6 million estimates in January, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission disclosed.

The commission has released a newly revised Humanitarian Document (HRD) based on the food security assessment conducted between May 23 and June 22 by the Ethiopian Government along with other partners.

The UN has revised its aid appeal to $487.7 million to address identified food and non-food needs for the remainder of the year.

The National Disaster Risk Management Commission report in January indicated a decline in the number of people affected by the drought – a drop to 5.6 million from the 10.2 million last year.

The southern and eastern regions of Ethiopia are the ones that will continue to be severely affected by the drought, while the number of refugees fleeing from South Sudan is putting pressure on the already saturated service provision on North West regions, the HRD states.

Oxfam last week said Food shortages and funding gap push extra 700,000 people to verge of starvation in Ethiopia.

‘’Yet another poor rainy season, the third in a row, has plunged 700,000 more people into crippling hunger and on the verge of starvation in the Somali region of southern Ethiopia” said Manish Kumar, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Program Manager in Ethiopia.

According to Oxfam, now in the midst of the lean season, people are fast running out of food as some areas have not had any food distributions since May. A deadly mix of severe acute malnutrition coupled with acute watery diarrhoea could put thousands of lives at risk, particularly the elderly and children.

Aid workers say there is a need to act now to prevent this crisis from turning into a catastrophe. They further point that the scale of need is overwhelming and rising.

"Of the US$ 1.25 billion needed to provide food, water and other life-saving assistance, 39% of the new response plan is yet to be funded," said Oxfam.

Oxfam is providing life-saving aid in the most remote locations in seven zones of the Somali region, south of the country.

"As of 07 August, we have delivered clean safe water and cash assistance for over 653,000 people as well as provided treatment and vaccinations for 212,000 livestock," said Kumar.

"Our response has various integrated WASH and livelihood actions that involve constructions of strategic bore-holes, latrines and sanitation and hygiene awareness," he added.

(ST)

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