Drought Forces Up to 500,000
Ethiopians From Homes
Reuters News Service, June 29, 2002
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) - Ethiopian officials warned on Saturday of an impending tragedy in the drought-stricken Afar region, where local authorities say up to 500,000 people have left their homes in search of food and water.
Two years of poor rains have sucked wells and rivers dry in the eastern Ethiopian region, forcing women to trek for seven hours a day to find water and killing livestock that families depend on for milk.
"The drought has severely affected children and the elderly in particular and unless urgent steps are taken it will be a tragedy," regional administrator Ismael Alisero was quoted as saying by the state-run Ethiopian News Agency.
Afar herdsmen have begun migrating to neighboring Amhara, Oromia and Tigray regions where there was more rain, Ismael was quoted as saying.
A mission of United Nations experts, non-governmental organizations and Ethiopian officials are touring the Afar area to assess requirements, ENA reported.
Ismael said that although the government's Federal Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) was warned in October that more than 400,000 people in Afar would need emergency assistance, the region had received insufficient aid.
A DPPC spokesman said they had dispatched 21,630 tonnes of emergency food to the Afar region in January to feed more than 173,000 people for one month.
Afar is a lowland area bordering Djibouti and Eritrea.
Ethiopia has appealed for 427,215 tonnes of food aid this year to feed 5.1 million people in need of emergency assistance across the country of 65 million.