Eritrea + 1 more

Refugees International launches assessment mission to Ethiopia

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Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) recently returned from a visit to Ethiopia (see RI spotlight, January 17, for an interview with the Congressman). He reported that more than 11 million Ethiopians need food assistance this year -- about 20 percent of the total population of the country.
The drought in Ethiopia has already resulted in severe and widespread malnutrition. The Congressman saw "2- and 3-year old children who are so severely malnourished that they cannot stand, much less walk." Moreover, the situation may become worse quickly. Food available for distribution to drought victims may run out as early as March if additional food is not shipped to Ethiopia very soon. The situation in neighboring Eritrea and other countries in the Horn of Africa may be equally bad.

With Ethiopia quickly becoming one of the largest and most critical humanitarian emergencies in the world, RI's Director of Advocacy, Larry Thompson, will travel to Ethiopia next week. Larry will meet with drought victims in several regions of the country as well as aid and government officials to examine the needs of Ethiopia and the priorities for humanitarian action.

Congressman Wolf said that many of the children he saw in Ethiopia "will be dead by Easter." The objectives of RI's visit to Ethiopia will be to help generate increased international attention to Ethiopians and to suggest priorities for humanitarian action by the international aid community. RI will also examine the root causes of Ethiopia's recurring food deficits and suggest steps that may mitigate the severity of future droughts.

Larry previously visited Ethiopia on behalf of Refugees International in 1998 to examine the plight of the "Falas Mora," -- Ethiopian Jews who were congregating in Addis Ababa and Gondar with hopes that they would be accepted for emigration to Israel. A few copies of RI's report "The Last Jews in Ethiopia" are still available on request.