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The BBC's Alix Kroeger
"The UN say more than 12 million people face serious food crisis"
 real 28k

Friday, 31 March, 2000, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
UN warns of new Horn famine
Aid lorries
The US has promised aid, but it may not be enough
The United Nations says more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa face a serious food crisis, raising the spectre of a repeat of the mid-1980s famine that left nearly one million people dead.

We are facing the real prospect in two months from now of another catastrophe

UN's Carolyn McAskie
Relief agencies in south-eastern Ethiopia say scores of children are dying from illnesses related to malnutrition amid reports of livestock being lost to drought.

"The rains have been sporadic and uneven and the prospects for May and June are highly uncertain," said UN deputy emergency relief coordinator, Carolyn McAskie.

Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi warns of a serious food problem
As in the mid-1980s, Ethiopia is most at risk, but six other countries in the region have also lost food stocks to the drought, fighting and continued instability from refugee flows.

"We are facing the real prospect in two months from now of another catastrophe which can be averted with the right kind of donor assistance," Ms McAskie said.

The United Nations estimates that it will cost $205m to bring the needed 371,000 metric tons of food and other assistance to the 12.4 million people at risk of famine in the seven most-affected countries.

UN envoy

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says some eight million people face starvation, adding that the 500,000 tonnes of food aid promised to his country by the United States would not be enough to avert the threat of famine.

Only about half of an existing UN inter-agency appeal for Ethiopia of $190m for the year 2000 has been met so far.

There has been no response so far to an appeal for $43m for Eritrea.

The UN has appointed a special envoy to the region. She is Catherine Bertini, the head of the organisation's international food agency, the World Food Programme.

She will travel to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya in mid-April to assess for herself what kind of assistance is required.

The UN says that while drought is the primary cause of the food crisis, conflict and insecurity have exacerbated the humanitarian situation in the region.

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been fighting a border war for nearly two years, and prolonged mediation efforts have achieved few concrete results.

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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Africa
Rain failures threaten Horn
13 Sep 99 | Africa
World Bank aid blow for Horn
03 Sep 99 | Americas
Mounting famine threat in Ethiopia
13 Jul 99 | Americas
New aid appeal for Ethiopia
23 Jun 99 | Africa
Hunger fear for Horn of Africa
05 Jan 00 | Africa
Is aid really helping?
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