Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Ethiopia leader calls for more foreign food aid amid drought

Published:Friday | March 18, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

ADDIS ABABA, (AP):

Ethiopia's leader yesterday urged the international community to donate more towards emergency food aid for millions of people amid a drought.

Ethiopia "should not be neglected by any means despite all the other crises that are going on elsewhere in the world," Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told the Associated Press in an interview.

"My country deserves more support because we are also sheltering some 750,000 refugees from neighbouring countries that need food aid," he said. "If something goes wrong, it is the international community who has not come in. The aid provided to us so far is very little, and it often came very late. I urge organisations like UNICEF to come in if they think this is a worst case scenario. Just talking is not a solution."

Aid agencies and the Ethiopian government say more than 10 million Ethiopians need urgent food aid and more than US$1.4 billion is needed to deal with the crisis, with only half of that secured so far. The US has been the biggest donor, giving more than US$532 million in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia since October 2014. The Ethiopian government has also spent about US$380 million of its own money.

The drought was brought on by the El Nino climate phenomenon that affected seasonal rains, causing crops to fail and killing livestock.

Ethiopia was devastated by a drought in the 1980s exacerbated by a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands.