The Catholic aid agency CAFOD fears that
Ethiopia and Eritrea could be running out of time to save millions from
the effects of a severe food crisis. Today the US government's Famine Early
Warning System said that food in the region could run out within a month.
Up to 11 million people in Ethiopia and two million in Eritrea face hunger
after one of the worst ever droughts.
Siggy Janssen from the joint CAFOD/Trocaire office in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa says that she was deeply worried by a recent trip to a health clinic treating malnourished babies in one of the affected regions. The clinic is in the north of Ethiopia above Mekele, an area which has been badly hit by the drought.
"It was very harsh seeing the effects that the food crisis is already having in the country. I saw one two year old who only weighed two kilos - after receiving food from the clinic for a month, she was smiling for the first time.
"It was all the more shocking as I have an eighteen month son who weighs 13 kilos." Two kilos (4.4 lbs) would be considered underweight for a newborn baby in a developed country and Ms Janssen saw several cases of malnourished children at the clinic. "I saw many children that I assumed to be only a few months old from their size only to be told that they were three or four."
In Eritrea, CAFOD partner Abba Uqbagaber has warned that his country is heading towards devastation not seen since the 1984/85 famine.
"Right now I am fearful of seeing the same scenes that I saw 19 years ago," he warned. "Then I was helping to distribute food aid in a predominantly
Muslim in Northern Ethiopia. I saw many children dying of hunger, whose parents had nothing to give them except for the food they were given by aid agencies. People would arrive barely alive at the distribution points having walked up to 20 kilometres (12.5miles) to find food. I am afraid that Eritrea has on the verge of those depths of despair again.
People coming to our clinics are physically declining fast and children are wilting in the hot weather."
For more information contact: Fiona Callister 020 73265558 or 07979 781 015 m. or firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Media Officer
Tel: 020 7326 5558