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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Geldof's ultimatum over Ethiopia aid
starving child
Britain has pledged 2.4m to famine-hit Ethiopia
Bob Geldof has warned the world it has four weeks to avert another famine disaster in Ethiopia.

The musician, who launched the Live Aid appeal for Ethiopian famine relief in 1985, urged the international community to react rapidly.

Geldof, who was given an honorary knighthood in 1986, said the situation would become "a disaster" in four weeks, and that "if it is, blame will be laid squarely at the doors of those responsible".

Ethiopia has said a slow international response to famine in the Horn of Africa is putting millions at risk.

Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof: Four weeks to avert disaster
"Everyone has been alerted as to what is going on, everyone feels a natural state of repugnance. " Geldof told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

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

"From what I understand there is no fighting in the area," he said. "If they keep talking about that it's a red herring."

But international politicians appear to be unable to agree on this point.

International Development Secretary Clare Short said the Ethiopian Government must end its war with Eritrea as it was "wasting valuable resources".

2.4m 'not sufficient'

And Ethiopia's ambassador to Britain Dr Beyene Negewo said Britain had used the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea as an excuse to delay its response.

He criticised the 2.4m it had pledged so far as "by no means sufficient" to stop people dying.

But Ms Short said it was "a bit extraordinary" for Dr Beyene to say Britain was using the war as an excuse.

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

Clare Short
Clare Short: Called for an end to civil war
"I think the international community should help but also put increased pressure on the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to make peace and put all their resources into helping the hungry and developing their country so we won't have hunger in future years."

The director of the UN World Food Programme Judith Lewis said it was an overstatement to suggest that the West was dragging its feet but admitted there were difficulties in getting food aid to some of the worst affected areas.

She said the UN was now considering the possibility of starting air-lifts to transport food aid to Ethiopia.

Ms Short said she would look at ways of stepping up aid to Ethiopia.

She said the 2.4m aid was already being distributed to the worst hit regions but Dr Beyene said his information was that it had yet to arrive.

"Clare Short has indicated the food is on its way but we do not know where it is," he said:

"Time is of the essence. Dying children will not wait until the food arrives. We hope the UK will respond quickly."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Sir Bob Geldof
"I don't understand why the EU have these difficulties"
The BBC's June Kelly
"Ethiopia says it needs a million tonnes of food immediately"
Paul Neillson, International aid EU commissioner
"We are not playing any kind of game with this humanitarian crisis"
See also:

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