The number of Ethiopians in need of humanitarian assistance has risen to 4.57 million, 40 percent more than estimated in April, said State Minister for Agriculture Mitiku Kassa.
The government needs $398.4 million to fund food relief for victims of a drought that has afflicted much of the Horn of Africa, according to a humanitarian assessment report handed to reporters.
“Today is the beginning” of fundraising, Mitiku told reporters in the capital, Addis Ababa, today.
Ethiopia is one of five countries suffering from the drought that is affecting as many as 10 million people, the United Nations World Food Programme said last week. The WFP is 40 percent short of the $477 million it says it needs for the rest of the year.
The number of people facing famine may be underestimated by the government, Jason Fraser, the acting head of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Ethiopia, told reporters today. While the government says a quarter of a million people are affected in the southern region, the U.S. Agency put the figure at closer to 750,000.
Separate from the victims of the recent drought, another 7.8 million Ethiopians receive food or cash assistance, WFP said in April.
The UN is unable to cope with the influx of about 1,700 refugees from Somalia driven every day by conflict and drought into Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado area camps, its refugee agency said last week.
To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at firstname.lastname@example.org.