Ethiopia: Major operation aids drought victims

News and Press Release
Originally published
Geneva/Addis Ababa (ICRC/ERCS) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) started a major assistance operation today, Thursday 20 February, stepping up their relief effort to assist 700,000 victims of the drought that has hit Ethiopia.
The first trucks loaded with cereals, pulses and oil left their Red Cross logistic bases for remote areas of Darolebu district, in the West Hararghe zone of Oromiya region. People in this area are facing particular hardship, with up to 90% of their crops having failed in recent months. In parallel with the emergency food distributions, local varieties of seed will be handed out in the coming weeks so that people in the region can start growing their own food again.

The next few weeks will also see people in East and West Hararghe, East Tigray and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State receive food and seed. Some 400,000 of these people (mainly in East and West Hararghe and East Tigray) will continue to receive food regularly for 5 to 10 months.

A recent field evaluation has shown these areas to be among those worst affected by the lack of rain in 2002. Living conditions here were already harsh, and have deteriorated as a result of ethnic tensions, armed violence and, in the case of Tigray, the consequences of the 1998-2000 fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This joint ICRC/ERCS operation will also involve other projects, such as building and repairing wells and rainfall catchments. The whole operation has been planned in close co-operation with other humanitarian organizations working in the country and forms part of the global strategy to relieve humanitarian needs in Ethiopia.

The current operation follows on from recent ICRC and ERCS food distributions to around 110,000 people in the Afar and Somali regions. With support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ERCS is also assisting some 65,000 people in the Doba district of West Hararghe.

Further information: Gianni Volpin, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel. ++ 251 1 518 366