British minister demands international response to Ethiopia drought

11 Dec 15

UK international development minister Nick Hurd has called for a global response to the increasingly desperate situation in Ethiopia.


The east African country is currently suffering what, in some of its regions, is the worst drought in 30 years due to weather phenomenon El Niño. Ethiopia’s government and the UN estimate 10.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance because of the drought.

Hurd said: “Ethiopia is facing a humanitarian crisis which continues to grow. Drought and crop failures have left millions facing chronic food shortages and children at risk of malnutrition, while a lack of clean water is increasing the threat of disease.”

The World Health Organisation recently massively scaled up its response to the crisis, as disease epidemics already ongoing in the country and new health risks are exacerbated by food insecurity, which WHO says require an initial $8m in response funding.

Ethiopia’s government and the UN have also launched an appeal for $1.4bn for their response.

The UK’s Department for International Development said a further 7.9 million people will need support under the country’s safety net programme – a government initiative to deliver cash or food to rural Ethiopians – bringing the total number of people in need of relief to more than 18 million.

Hurd said: “This crisis needs a global response. The people of Ethiopia desperately need the international community to step up and provide immediate, targeted humanitarian relief.”

The UK is the second biggest bilateral donor to Ethiopia and has provided support throughout the crisis already, along with Sweden, the US, Canada, Norway and Switzerland – all of whom prevented the World Food Programme’s operations in the country from going under due to funding shortages.

The World Food Programme in Sudan also recently received a UK funding boost, and both Britain and China have contributed to alleviate an increasingly dire food crisis in South Sudan.

The Red Cross warned today that hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan are facing severe hunger, high medical needs and a chaotic and dangerous life as fighting and food shortages continue to plague the world’s newest country. 

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