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Ethiopia crisis worsens as drought prevails

8.5 million people are in dire need in Ethiopia due to worsening drought and a deteriorating food security situation, up from 5.6 million in January, according to the United Nations. Despite this, the international aid appeal for the country is only one quarter funded, nine months into the year.

“Civilians living in rural areas in the south and east of the country are the worst affected,” said Gabriella Waaijman, Regional Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The nation is facing its worst drought in decades. 8.5 million men, women and children need immediate food assistance. We are calling on donors to urgently scale up the funding needed to meet the massive needs we are witnessing.”

The periodic heating event El Niño is in its third successive year of wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods in Ethiopia. This has left the country among the most drought-affected countries of Africa.

“You can see the situation disintegrate. The lack of rain has claimed thousands of animals. I have lost 950 out of 1000 livestock that I had,” said Abdio Mohamed, 60, a pastoralist in the Darso Keble camp for displaced people in the Somali Region.  

Low spring rains this year in the southern and eastern parts of the country have further intensified the drought conditions. In particular, the Somali region of Ethiopia in the southeast is suffering one of its most severe droughts in decades.

On top of its own drought crisis, Ethiopia is hosting over 838,000 refugees from neighbouring Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and other countries. The government is responding to the growing emergency, and is working together with the international community to respond to the crisis.  

“To prevent the number of people in need from growing, we need to increase urgent humanitarian assistance to the southern and eastern parts of Ethiopia. Lives are at risk and we desperately need international donors to step up their support. More can and must be done to save lives,” said Waaijman.  

NRC is present in four regions in Ethiopia assisting people displaced by conflict and drought through food security, shelter, education, and water and sanitation activities. Read more about NRC’s work in Ethiopia here.

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