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The BBC's Rageh Omaar in Gode
"The difference between life and death"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Ethiopia: 'Too little too late'
Sick child, Gode, Ethiopia
Many children are suffering from severe malnutrition
By Rageh Omaar in Gode, Ethiopia

Every morning at first light they gather from all parts of Gode town to wait and hope for some relief from hunger and disease.

Mothers bring their children to be registered at one of the three feeding centres in this whole area, praying that their children may be admitted for treatment.


Reaching towns like Gode is their only hope of finding assistance

But inside, there is only room for the most critical cases. This is the therapeutic feeding centre for the most severely malnourished. There is so much need but only the most basic facilities. But at least it is something.

The centre was established by a local aid agency, the Ogaden Welfare Society, with financing from international relief groups. For many children it is the difference between life and death.

Smiling child, Gode, Ethiopia
For some children the health centre gives hope
One four-year-old boy is fighting to cling on to life. His family remains at his side, helping to feed him high-energy protein formula. He weighs only 15 pounds.

His family walked for five days to bring him to the centre.

It is not just basic medical facilities that have drawn so many thousands of people to Gode.

The Shabeelle river which runs through the town, provides plentiful water in a region ravaged by drought. But local aid workers feel the international community has not delivered on the pledges of aid it has made to Ethiopia.

Mahmoud Ugass Mohammed of the Ogaden Welfare Society says the aid is not enough and not in time.

Family tend sick boy, Gode
This boy's family walked for five days to get him to the centre
"There are delays and logistic problems for the government in delivering what they have in hand," he says. "For the last month of March, there has not been any food distributed to the affected people at all."

The camps on the edge of Gode are now home to the nomads who have had to leave their villages because of the drought. Reaching towns like Gode is their only hope of finding assistance.

But for some, having reached here, their ordeal is still not over. The announcement by the European Union that it is to send more food aid has not come too soon.

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See also:

05 Jan 00 | Africa
Is aid really helping?
21 Mar 00 | Africa
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13 Sep 99 | Africa
World Bank aid blow for Horn
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13 Jul 99 | Americas
New aid appeal for Ethiopia
23 Jun 99 | Africa
Hunger fear for Horn of Africa
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