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In Horn, Bellamy welcomes peace deal

Friday, 16 June 2000: Executive Director Carol Bellamy, today welcomed news of a cease-fire in the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict, saying that it cleared the way for a renewed emphasis on humanitarian relief in the drought-starved region.

"I cannot overstate the importance of this cease-fire agreement to the people of the Horn -- not only for Ethiopia and Eritrea, but for all the drought-affected countries," Ms. Bellamy said. "The conflict has obscured the larger humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people in five countries -- hopefully now we can turn that around."

Ms. Bellamy made her remarks following a visit Thursday deep in the drought-affected area in southeastern Ethiopia, where more than one million people are facing loss of livelihood, hunger and disease. She visited UNICEF-supported health centres, water projects, emergency schoolrooms and therapeutic feeding sites, and spoke with dozens of women and children. She noted that across the Horn, 70 per cent of those affected by the drought are children and women.

"I understand some donors were concerned about supporting drought relief during a war," Ms. Bellamy said. "I am very hopeful that they will step forward now and support the work UN agencies and non-governmental groups have been carrying out since February."

The United Nations issued a $378 million appeal for drought relief efforts in the Horn last week. The UNICEF portion, $30 million, is committed to basic health care and immunization, therapeutic feeding for malnourished children, repair of rural water schemes, sanitation and hygiene efforts, and stop-gap education for displaced youngsters.

"Everything I saw yesterday convinced me that not only is humanitarian aid crucial, it is making a huge difference," Ms. Bellamy added. "We have a golden opportunity now to refocus -- not on loss of lives, but on saving lives."

Today Ms. Bellamy will meet the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, then travel on to Eritrea, where she will visit displaced persons camps. She will then make stops in Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya -- all countries where children are threatened by drought.

See also:

Drought draws Bellamy to Horn

Update: Drought and the spectre of famine

Please email media@unicef.org with comments or requests for more information, quoting CF/DOC/PR/2000/52