UN says Ethiopia food aid may run out by June

News and Press Release
Originally published
ADDIS ABABA, Feb 26 (Reuters) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday that more than 660,000 tonnes of food aid were needed urgently in drought-stricken Ethiopia as existing supplies could run out by the end of June.

WFP says that around 11 million people out of the Horn of Africa country's population of 67 million face severe food shortages due to poor harvests unless aid reaches them in the next few months.

"We are urging donors to continue giving food aid to Ethiopia to prevent cereal supplies from running out at the end of June,'' WFP Ethiopia spokesman Wagdi Othman told Reuters, echoing a call for more food aid made by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during his current visit to London.

"A break in the food pipeline could lead to a severe deterioration of the nutritional situation of millions of people throughout Ethiopia,'' Othman said.

In an interview with the BBC's Focus on Africa on Sunday, Meles urged the international community to keep up the relief effort.

"A recent drop in food donations could endanger famine relief efforts in the country,'' Meles said.

Othman said there was enough food to feed the 11.3 million drought-affected people until the end of June, but only at reduced rations.

"Due to insufficient relief food available, beneficiaries are getting 12.5 kg (27 lb) per person per month instead of the normal 15 kg (33 lb) monthly ration, which is not enough for people entirely dependent on food aid,'' he said.

WFP said about 55 percent of the total food aid needed in 2003 had so far been received from donors.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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