Joan Summers, Programme Director, Oxfam International said:
"There are critical gaps in the food pipeline. Just over half of the food needed for 2003 has been pledged and it is vital that these pledges materialise. From Mauritania to Angola, many countries are in desperate need of food and huge demands are being placed on the international community to help on so many different fronts. But with eleven million people reliant on food being provided for them by the international community, Ethiopia is on the critical list and we must deliver."
Whilst the international community have promised supplies of wheat and cooking oil, more expensive higher - protein foods are only a third met and are urgently needed to feed the weakest such as children, the elderly and new mothers.
Gezahegn Kebede, Oxfam International's Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Ethiopia said:
"The magnitude of this crisis - which is more widespread than any previous drought to affect Ethiopia - means that any slippage in the delivery of food could result in catastrophe for the thousands of people who are on the brink of survival.
"We also need to start to address the reason why these recurring droughts have such a devastating impact on Ethiopia. Most of the 65 million Ethiopians are either farmers or pastoralists who have no opportunity to work their way out of poverty and protect themselves from nature's whims. Investment in rural development and markets is vital if we are to stop droughts like these recurring with such devastating impact in Ethiopia."
Ethiopia: Averting the crisis argues that solutions to Ethiopia's predicament need to address the underlying causes of poverty in the country, lack of rural investment, land pressure, the debt burden, and unfair terms of trade.
For further information contact:
Gemma Swart, Media and Advocacy Co-ordinator in Ethiopia on 00 251 1 613344 or 251 (0)9 208332 or Sam Barratt in the Oxfam GB Press Office on 00 44 1865 312498 or 00 44 7813 021960.
Notes for Editors:
Oxfam is providing relief both operationally and through local partners in the following areas:
Food Distribution - Oromia Region, East Shewa Zone and East Hararghe, Tigray Region, Southern Zone
Incineration of carcases and veterinary support - Afar Region, Zone one, three and five.
Water Distribution - Somali Region, Shinile Zone
Rehabilitation of water sources - Afar Region, Zone two.