The Horn of Africa is facing a historic drought that the United Nations says could result in some 20 million starvation deaths. In Ethiopia, more than seven million people already have something to eat, with war in the north suffering.
Unsuccessful rains for the fourth year in a row are causing the worst drought in the Horn of Africa since 1981. Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Program told VOA the combination of conflict in Ethiopia’s north and drought in the south was “devastating”. “For the country.
WFP spokeswoman Claire Neville said the worst effects could be averted if action is taken quickly, but it is unlikely.
He said, “In the droughts of 2016 to 2017, this catastrophe was averted through early action… In 2022, due to acute shortage of resources, there is a growing fear that it may not be possible to prevent the coming disaster. Will happen,” he said.
A policy adviser for a major Ethiopian humanitarian donor, who declined to be named, told VOA that the government’s focus was on the war and mobilization for it, so there were significant gaps in assessing and putting in place response mechanisms. Drought in the South. The advisor said that the cost of that inattention was a great loss of livelihood, property and livestock.
The advisor noted, however, that regional and central governments have recently tried to pull together resources and address the needs in regions of the country such as Somali and Oromia, especially by rallying donors such as the WFP. .
Aid agencies in Africa have also complained that the crisis in Ukraine is drawing attention and money from countries on the Erican continent.
The policy advisor said the damage caused by a delayed response is irreversible and it could take years for those affected to recover, if it happens.
In addition to drawing attention from the drought, Ethiopia’s civil war itself has been a major cause of humanitarian crisis. In March, the government said it had called for a humanitarian ceasefire and would allow aid to the northern region of Tigre, where it is fighting separatist forces.
William Davison, a senior analyst covering Ethiopia for the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based research group, says, “Despite the humanitarian conflict, there still appears to be about one convoy of aid reaching the Tigre per week, so it’s as if unrestricted.” There is no access for humanitarian agencies that needs.” He added, “We should also note that no steps have yet been taken by the federal government to restore critical public services, including banking, telecommunications and electricity. ”
According to United Nations figures, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid in the north is likely to be affected by drought in the south, with a total of about 12.5 million Ethiopians in need of help.
Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission, an arm of the Ethiopian government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.