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News: UK announces £100 m to Ethiopia amid deepening humanitarian crisis

A medical officer examining a malnourished child in the Tigray region. Photo: Screenshot/Chanel 4 News

More than three million Ethiopians, including mothers and babies, will receive lifesaving help from the UK through a new humanitarian aid program.

Addis Abeba – The British Government has announced £100 million in aid “to save the lives of mothers and babies in Ethiopia”

The UK warned of growing risk of humanitarian catastrophe after Andrew Mitchell, Development and Africa Minister, returned from a 2-day visit to Ethiopia where he witnessed “the humanitarian crisis first hand,” the UK said in a statement. It also called on the international community to step up efforts to prevent a major crisis.

Millions of Ethiopians are grappling with hunger in the aftermath of the devastating two-year war in the Tigray region and ongoing militarized conflicts in the Amhara and Oromia regions. A rising number of people in the Tigray regions have already been reported to have died by starvation.

The gravity of the situation has led local officials to draw parallels to the catastrophic famine of the mid-1980s. Recently, Getachew Reda, the president of the Tigray interim administration, has issued a stark warning of imminent “starvation and death” in the war-torn region.

Last week, Getachew warned that told the 1985 famine would “pale in comparison” to the crisis the regional state is facing currently.

In the Amhara region, specifically in the Waghimra and North Gonder zones, the severe drought, coupled with the ongoing conflict between government forces and non-state local militia called ‘Fano’, is causing a calamitous impact on the local population.

More than two dozens people were reported to have succumbed to death by starvation in these two zones alone, and the livestock casualties exceeded 85,000. MorerRecently, the Amhara Disaster Prevention and Food Security Commission revealed that over 1.8 million people in the region urgently require assistance due to the ongoing drought.

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However, Shiferaw Teklamariam, commissioner of Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Management Commission, denied the presence of death by starvation and said that the current situation in Ethiopia amounts to “drought but not famine.” Shiferaw vehemently denounced what he said were “efforts to exploit the drought in different regions” of the country for “political purposes”, labeled such reporting as “inappropriate and completely unacceptable.”

Millions are trapped in displacement, hunger and need. As ever the most vulnerable people, particularly women and children, are the first to be hit.

Andrew Mitchell

The new £100 million funding will be allocated for ending preventable deaths that is targeted on children, particularly children under the age of five, and also on pregnant and post-natal women, the statement said.

The program will help more than 3 million Ethiopians – mostly women and children – access essential health services. The funding will increase, among other things, access to family planning support, medicines, and childhood vaccinations.

“The crisis is a wake-up call to the world. Food shortages are at a critical level. War has displaced people and decimated vital infrastructure. Climate change and El Nino have fueled local exoduses with 400,000 displaced in the Somali region of Ethiopia as of last December,” Mr Mitchell said. “Millions are trapped in displacement, hunger and need. As ever the most vulnerable people, particularly women and children, are the first to be hit,” Mr Mitchel further said.

He warned that the number of critically food insecure people is growing rapidly and will reach 10.8 million in the coming months. AS

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