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The BBC's Mike Donkin
"Help can't come fast enough"
 real 28k

The BBC's George Alagiah in Addis Ababa
examines the significance of Bertini's visit
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Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
More US aid for Ethiopia
Ethiopia's south-east has been without rain for three years
The United States is sending more emergency food aid to drought-stricken Ethiopia.

The US State Department spokesman, James Rubin, said a new food shipment of some 40 tonnes would reach the country by the weekend.

The US announcement came after the United Nations Special Envoy to Ethiopia, Catherine Bertini, made a new appeal for international aid during her visit to the Ethiopian town of Gode.

Ms Bertini is about to begin talks with Ethiopian officials and international aid agencies to see what improvements can be made in bringing help to victims of the severe drought.

Announcing the US aid, Mr Rubin said that the Ethiopian government could have done more if it had not allocated so many resources on the war with Eritrea.

hands for food
Ethiopian women receive their rations of corn and soya powder

The area around Gode - 500km south-east of the capital, Addis Ababa - has been without rain for three years and hundreds of people died there last month alone.


Ms Bertini will hold talks with the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, later on Thursday.

They will discuss ways of delivering more food and medicines to people suffering starvation in the south of the country.

Ms Bertini wants to make sure that the aid pipeline from the port in neighbouring Djibouti and across land-locked Ethiopia carries enough supplies.

The Ethiopian government will also stress that it wants donor countries to make those supplies available quickly.

Ethiopia's war with Eritrea and any hindrance this might cause to the humanitarian operation is also likely to be raised.


There has not been any serious fighting for some time, but both sides are believed to have about 500,000 troops available.

Western government say resources being diverted to keep the war could be better used helping the people in need.

People have to wait for their food rations at distribution centres
The Ethiopian Government has said it is "profoundly surprised" by the international criticism.

It has blamed distribution problems on the donor countries' slow response to its urgent appeals for food supplies.

Ethiopia has refused offers from Eritrea to use the port of Assab, which has good road connections to the affected areas, dismissing the proposal as a "public relations gimmick".

Neither side appears willing to make concessions in order to resolve the conflict.

But on Wednesday Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki told US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that he will attend peace talks with Ethiopia this month.

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See also:

12 Apr 00 | Africa
Urgent plea for famine aid
12 Apr 00 | Africa
Famine devastates Somali family
12 Apr 00 | Africa
In pictures: Famine in Gode
06 Apr 00 | Talking Point
Ethiopia: Too late to avert catastrophe?
31 Mar 00 | Africa
Why is famine back again?
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