Former president Mary Robinson has urged world leaders to turn their focus to the severe drought, brought about by shifting weather patterns, that has left millions of Africans in need of food aid.
El Niño, a water-warming weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, has led to sharply reduced rainfall across densely populated swathes of Ethiopia and other African states. Its effects have been worsened by climate change, leaving an estimated 10.2 million people urgently in need of food assistance in Ethiopia alone.
On a visit to Ethiopia in her capacity as UN special envoy for climate and El Niño, Mrs Robinson said there was a funding gap of $518 million for efforts to mitigate the effects of the drought in the country. However, with the international community preoccupied with migration, Brexit and conflict zones, it was difficult to garner global attention for the problem.
“I don’t think the impact of El Niño, aggravated by climate change, has received the attention that it should have from the international community,” she said after meeting the Ethiopian foreign minister, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Not only is it severe here in Ethiopia and needs more support, but it’s also affecting southern Africa very badly. It’s affecting parts of central America, such as Honduras. It’s affecting parts of Asia, like Vietnam. ”
El Niño, which occurs every two to seven years, affects weather systems around the globe, resulting in some regions receiving more rain and leaving other suffering from drought. It is usually followed by La Niña, which is the cooling of the Pacific Ocean, and which can also bring floods and droughts to many regions. International agencies have called for a La Niña conference to take place this September to highlight the severity of the deepening crisis and the severe
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