From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jul 12 2011 - 07:26:55 EDT
The Associated Press
July 11, 2011, 9:25AM ET
US official: Ethiopia underestimating drought needBy LUC VAN KEMENADE
A U.S. official said Monday he fears Ethiopian officials may be
underestimating the country's needs in its drought crisis, even as the
government announced that 4.5 million Ethiopians need food aid, 40 percent
more than last year.
The U.S. government aid arm is looking for ways to help the hungry on
Ethiopia's side of a three-country drought crisis that is also devastating
communities in Kenya and Somalia.
"We are concerned that we are underestimating the situation, especially in
the southern provinces," Jason Frasier, mission director of USAID in
Ethiopia, said of that country's food crisis.
Ethiopia's state minister of agriculture, Mitiku Kassa, said Monday that
nearly $400 million is needed to fill the country's food gap. He said
Ethiopia needs to distribute 380 metric tons of food.
A drought centered in the triangle where Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet
has sent tens of thousands of people pouring into refugee camps in search of
food. The three-way border is a nomadic region where families heavily depend
on the health of their livestock.
Uganda and Djibouti have also been hit. The World Food Program said it
expects 10 million people in the Horn of Africa to require food aid.
The head of the U.N. agency for refugees said Sunday that drought-ridden
Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world.
Somalis are walking for days or weeks to reach camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.
The young and the old are dying en route. Families have little food or money
after herds of cattle, goats and camels were wiped out after successive
seasons of no rains hit the war-ravaged country.
Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, located in northeast Kenya, is
seeing thousands of new arrivals daily. More than 380,000 people already
live in the camps.
"I must say that I visited many refugee camps in the world. I have never
seen people coming in such a desperate situation," the head of the U.N.
refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, said Sunday after seeing new arrivals in
Faduma Sakow Abdullahi, a Somali mother, said her husband died after
drinking contaminated water, and that two children died on the way to Dadaab
from hunger and exhaustion. Others in need begged for help but she had none
"My journey was like a trip to hell. I have seen and experienced a lot of
sufferings on my way to Kenya," Abdullahi said, tears rolling down her
cheeks. "I reached a stage in which I didn't care about whether I die or
Associated Press reporter Malkhadir M. Muhumed in Dadaab, Kenya contributed
to this report.
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