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The UK minister emphasizes the need to take action on the food crisis in Ethiopia.
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The UK minister emphasizes the need to take action on the food crisis in Ethiopia.

According to Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s Africa minister, the possibility of a humanitarian disaster in northern Ethiopia is increasing. This statement was made upon his return from a two-day visit to the area.

Mitchell stated on Monday that we have a chance to prevent a potential disaster by taking action immediately.

The nation is facing the consequences of a prolonged drought caused by El Niño, as well as a violent conflict, including a two-year war in the northern region of Tigray that concluded in November 2022.

The United Kingdom, which has consistently prioritized Ethiopia, is gradually undoing substantial reductions to its aid efforts. During his visit, Mitchell held discussions with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa and visited the Tigray regional center, Mekelle. The main focus of his trip was to emphasize the urgency of preparing for a potential famine by providing aid immediately.

Similar to other Foreign Office officials, Mitchell has been focused on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. However, he is concerned that other equally significant crises, like the one in Ethiopia, have not received as much global recognition.

According to him, there is a dire situation in northern Ethiopia where large numbers of individuals are experiencing hunger. The combination of warfare, specifically the conflict in Tigray, and the impact of climate change has severely damaged the ability to grow crops and forced people to leave their homes.

Mitchell received information that one million individuals were forced to leave their homes and three million were experiencing severe food insecurity and hunger.

Donors from around the world have been working to aid approximately 6.6 million individuals in need. The United Nations recently reported that the number of people facing severe food insecurity could potentially rise to 10.8 million during the lean season of July-September.

The United Nations has stated that malnutrition rates in certain areas of Afar, Amhara, Tigray, and other regions have exceeded the internationally recognized crisis levels. However, the current situation does not yet meet the conditions of a famine.

The United Kingdom has initiated a program to eliminate avoidable deaths for children, with a specific focus on those under five years old, as well as pregnant and postpartum women.

The program, worth £100 million, aims to assist over 3 million individuals in Ethiopia by utilizing 75 health centers to address malnutrition and other preventable causes of mortality, including malaria and cholera. This will be achieved by improving access to family planning resources, medication, and childhood vaccinations.

Ethiopia ranks fourth in terms of the number of mothers who die due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, with approximately 10,000 deaths per year. A significant number of these fatalities could be avoided through basic care and assistance provided before, during, and after pregnancy. This includes access to medication, nutritional supplements, clean water, and proper sanitation in healthcare facilities.

Mitchell stated that the current crisis should serve as a reminder to the world. There is a severe shortage of food and war has resulted in the displacement of people and destruction of important infrastructure. The combination of climate change and El Niño has also led to local migrations, causing 400,000 people to be displaced in the Somali region of Ethiopia in just last November.

“Millions are trapped in a destructive spiral of displacement, hunger and need. As ever the most vulnerable people, particularly women and children, are the first to be hit.

The global community must support Ethiopia and collaborate with our allies in the government and international organizations to stop and reverse this crisis. In a region that has suffered from famines before, we must increase our global efforts to prevent a significant crisis in the near future.

The leader of Tigray’s interim government, Getachew Reda, has stated that 91% of the inhabitants in the semi-arid area are at risk of famine and death. He has appealed to the federal government in Addis Ababa for assistance.

Source: theguardian.com