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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Rains hamper Ethiopian aid effort
Ethiopian kid
The rains could increase suffering in the south
Sudden heavy rains in Ethiopia are hampering relief efforts in one of the regions worst hit by drought and famine.

Right now the rain is more of a hindrance

ICRC's Vincent Nicod
A spokesperson for the International Red Cross said if the rain in Gode continued, more people would die because relief planes could not land, and trucks were bogged down in the mud.

At the same time, the UN says many children in the Horn of Africa will die within the next few months unless donor countries come up with millions of dollars to lessen the impact of the drought that hit the region recently.

"In the short term if the rain continues, we might see an increase in people dying ... because relief planes cannot land, and trucks cannot make it to isolated areas were the roads are bad," said the ICRC's Vincent Nicod.

Ethiopia relief truck
The weather hasn't helped the delivery of aid
"Now that new grass is growing, the cattle will eat it, and the fresh grass is difficult to digest which could lead to them dying," he added.

The ICRC has also cancelled some relief flights to the drought-hit regions of the south-east.

"We hope it's gong to rain a lot so people can plant, but right now there is a bad need for food distribution so we hope the rains subside slightly," Nicod said.

"Right now it's more of a hindrance," he added.


The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is also expressing fears that the rains could increase suffering in the drought-stricken regions of south and south-east Ethiopia, particularly the Borena zone.

"The rains can also mean a serious threat to people's health. A temperature drop can increase the risk of pneumonia and spawn diarhoea and malaria which can be devastating for an already weak population," the UNDP said.

An official of the state-run Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC,) Getachew Tsefaye, said he was concerned that delay between pledges and deliveries of food would mean some of the aid could come "too late".

He said 8,000 tonnes of food aid had been transported to the drought-hit eastern Somali region.

The UN Children's fund, Unicef, said food, water and drugs were urgently needed.

The Unicef chief executive, Carol Bellamy, said new funds had to be made available before relief work can start.

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See also:

01 Apr 00 | Africa
Why is famine back again?
04 Apr 00 | Africa
Ethiopia: 'Too little too late'
05 Apr 00 | Africa
UN to distribute Ethiopia aid
18 Apr 00 | Africa
Long wait for food aid
05 May 00 | Africa
Ethiopia-Eritrea talks collapse
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