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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
UN to distribute Ethiopia aid
Ethiopian child
Rich nations waiting for 'skeletons on screens'?
The United Nations is making preparations to distribute food aid to Ethiopia where eight million people are said to be at risk from drought and famine.
I think we may be a bit late but it is not too late to save lives if we respond at this point

Mr Kofi Annan

The UN is hoping to airlift 40 tonnes of food by early next week to the Ogaden region in the south-east, near the Somali border.

The Ogaden region is difficult to reach by road.

The UN is also planning to take in more food through the port of Djibouti.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged international food donors to give generously so that lives can be saved.

"I think we may be a bit late but it is not too late to save lives if we respond at this point," he said.

Complaints of apathy

Mr Annan's appeal comes after complaints from Ethiopia that the West had been slow to respond to its crisis - though these complaints have been challenged by Western governments and the UN's World Food Programme.
The UN's Kofi Annan
Mr Annan is sending his special envoy to the famine-hit region

Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said that despite his government's appeal four months ago for help, rich nations have been waiting to see "skeletons on screens" before responding to the call.

The Ethiopian Ambassador to Britain, Dr Beyene Negewo, also criticised the 2.4m so far pledged by Britain as insufficient.

The Ethiopian Government's complaints have been echoed in London by Bob Geldof, the musician who launched the 1985 Live Aid campaign for Ethiopian famine relief.
Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof: Four weeks to avert disaster

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Geldof warned the world that it had only four weeks to avert another famine disaster in Ethiopia.

He said he believed Ethiopia's war with Eritrea was being used as an excuse not to deliver emergency aid.

"From what I can understand there is no fighting in the area," he said.

But the British Minister for International Development Clare Short disagreed. She said the Ethiopian Government must end its war with Eritrea as it was "wasting valuable resources".

But she added: "People should never be made to pay for their governments devoting resources to a war," she said.

So far the United States has pledged a donation of 400,000 tonnes of food aid to Ethiopia.
Hungry Ethiopian children
In some places up to six children are dying a day

The European Union also said it was working to send about 800,000 tonnes of food to the Horn of Africa.

In Ethiopia itself, the authorities say they have been digging wells and rehabilitating disused ones in the eastern Ogaden region, worst hit by the drought.

The deputy water minister, Abdi-Rashid Dulane, told the BBC that water tankers were also carrying supplies to dry populated areas.

Wheat was also being distributed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Peter Biles reports
"The government and the aid agencies are deeply worried"
Ethiopian ambassador to the UK Beyene Negewo:
"It can be overcome"
The BBC's Rageh Omaar
"At least six children under five are dying every day"
See also:

05 Apr 00 | Africa
05 Apr 00 | Africa
04 Apr 00 | Africa
31 Mar 00 | Africa
04 Apr 00 | Africa
03 Apr 00 | Africa
31 Mar 00 | Africa
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