|© UNICEF Ethiopia/2005/Getachew|
|A child receives treatment for severe malnutrition at Derara Health Centre in Boricha – an area badly affected by drought and food shortages.|
By Jane O'Brien
NEW YORK, 26 April 2005 – Ethiopia’s children are dying from malnutrition as food shortages sweep the country. The death rate among those under five is particularly high and the situation is said to be deteriorating. Failed rains and a chronic lack of water are adding to the suffering.
War, famine and drought have already forced some 200,000 people to seek refuge in camps. At the Hartishek camp in the Somali region, 40 children have died from malnutrition this year and there has been no food assistance for several months.
There is concern that children at such camps are slipping through the net. Hartishek was opened during the civil conflict in the 1980s and quickly became home to more than half a million people. It was officially closed last year although up to 6,000 people remain on the site.
“If we don’t receive the general food distribution the food security situation will not improve, it will continue to deteriorate,” says Eric Durpaire, UNICEF’s Programme Officer for the region.
“If we don’t receive the supplementary food in order to implement the feeding programme...the moderately malnourished children will become severely malnourished. And if we don’t succeed in implementing the therapeutic feeding centre because of a lack of funds, these severely malnourished children will die.”
UNICEF is starting emergency feeding and is supplying two tankers of water every day. But the agency says arrangements must be made to enable those still living at Hartishek to return voluntarily to their homes.
At a therapeutic feeding centre in Oromiya, west of the Somali region, UNICEF staff are also reporting a dramatic increase in the number of children being treated for malnutrition. Last month they admitted 120 children – five times more than in January.
Across the country, some 25 hotspots have been identified in which children are especially at risk.
26 April 2005:
Children are dying from malnutrition in Ethiopia