In Ethiopia top UN relief official assesses droughtstricken areas

1 September 2008The top United Nations humanitarian official has begun his three-day visit to Ethiopia, where he is holding talks with Government officials, relief groups and individuals affected by the country’s drought and food crisis. John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, travelled to Ethiopia’s Konso Special Woreda in Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) today to review humanitarian efforts.He met with farmers who had lost their crops to drought and visited an outpatient therapeutic centre and stabilization centre, which provide critical nutritional and medical help to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Some 75,000 Ethiopian children have been directly affected by the drought and are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Mr. Holmes also witnessed a government food distribution for the chronically food insecure. Throughout Ethiopia, 4.6 million people receive emergency food aid. A shortage of emergency resources, including ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF), emergency relief food and other critical supplies, is worsening an already dire situation. “Ethiopia is facing a food crisis that is one of the worst in the world, especially in terms of malnutrition among children,” he said. “It is important that we make every effort to deal quickly and comprehensively with this tragedy.”Earlier today, Mr. Holmes inaugurated the liaison office between the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the African Union, which will be headed by Kazimiro Rudolf-Jocondo.During his visit, the UN humanitarian chief will also meet with the Deputy Prime Minister Ato Addisu Legesse and travel to Ethiopia’s Somali Region to review ongoing humanitarian efforts there.

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