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Drought grips Ethiopia...

Failed rains have left millions of Ethiopians in the south of the country facing famine, the United Nations (UN) has warned. The UN Children's Fund (Unicef) estimates that around that around 3.5 million people will need emergency food aid worth more than US$100 million over the coming months.

Despite making an urgent appeal for 350,000 tonnes of emergency food aid in June, the Ethiopian government has reacted angrily to speculation about a possible humanitarian crisis in the region, accusing aid workers of exaggerating the problem in order to raise money.

Around 80 per cent of Ethiopians depend on subsistence agriculture, but the dry spell means they will not be able to produce their own food until the next rains come in October. The UK Department for International Development has pledged US$30 million in aid to help avert a crisis.

Neighbouring Somalia is also on the brink of a humanitarian emergency as a result of failed seasonal rains, soaring food prices and the country's precarious security situation. FAO has warned that half of the population could face acute food shortages by the end of the year.

Date published: July 2008


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