The United Nations World Food Programme said last Friday that it would continue to feed a total of 62,000 Ethiopians uprooted by the border war with Eritrea, down from 76,500 Ethiopians displaced by the conflict who had received food aid last year.
"Most of the displaced people were small-scale subsistence farmers who, even before the conflict, were frequently unable to produce sufficient food to fully meet their requirements," said Georgia Shaver, WFP Country Director in Ethiopia. " Owing to their displacement, and inability to plant or harvest crops for 6 years, food assistance is crucial to their survival until situations improve for them to be reinstated on their lands."
WFP said it will distribute 9,700 tonnes of food valued at 3 million dollars from May until January 2005 to displaced communities, who are unable to rebuild their livelihoods because their homes were either too near to the border or their farmland is covered with landmines.
During the border conflict, thousands of Ethiopians in the northern region of Tigray fled their lands and abandoned their assets. WFP has helped the internally displaced people since April 1999 and initially aimed to reach more than 300,000. But the number fell by three-quarters as many returned home after a cessation of hostilities agreement and then a peace pact in 2000.
The food distribution will be linked to community development activities. WFP estimates that over 50 percent of those who still need food aid are women and 40 percent are children.
WFP assists over three million people affected by drought, poor harvests and conflict in Ethiopia and also provides food aid to 1.8 million people through Land Rehabilitation and School Feeding programmes.
- Addis Tribune
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