Drought disasters

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Bellamy calls for more aid

When humanitarian organizations make aid appeals for drought-stricken areas, the reflexive action is to provide food. For where there's drought, starvation is often only a failed harvest away.

We are currently in the midst of a major United Nations appeal for $386 million to East Africa, where more than 13 million are at risk from an extended drought. After only two weeks, pledges from major international donors -- mostly national governments -- covered nearly half that amount. Most of the aid is food, which obviously this is essential to relieve hunger. But populations teetering on the edge of famine need a complete package of aid

Copyright:©UNICEF/HQ00-0515e/ Radhika Chalasani

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy speaks with a woman holding her malnourished infant on 15 June in a UNICEF-assisted supplementary feeding centre in the Ethiopian town of Gode, 500 km south of Addis Ababa, the capital.

A major reason UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy visited the Horn of Africa from 15-20 June was to stress the need for immediate and comprehensive aid to save people's lives. "I must point out that while food is necessary, it is by no means sufficient alone. Malnourished children need supplemental feeding and special attention. Immunizations are required against diseases. Sanitation and clean water prevent the spread of disease to begin with," she said upon the conclusion of her trip.

Noting that the recent cessation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea allows for more vigorous relief efforts, Ms. Bellamy particularly stressed the grave situation in Eritrea. Due to the war and drought, nearly one-half of its entire population is displaced.

Across the region, the situation for children, the weakest part of the population, is the most pressing. As the crisis continues, they will become even more susceptible to malnutrition, disease and even death. To help them, and as part of the broader UN appeal, UNICEF is asking for $30 million for health, nutrition, water and sanitation, and education.

Ms. Bellamy says that, overall, a good relief system is in place throughout the region. Now it must be reinforced with renewed resources and action to ensure the survival of the afflicted populations.

In addition to Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ms. Bellamy visited Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia.

UNICEF emergency appeal for the Horn of Africa

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