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Ethiopia leader calls for more foreign food aid amid drought

/ 10:22 PM March 17, 2016
Local residents await the arrival of the UN secretary-general in Ogolcho in Ethiopia's drought affected Oromia region to tour various UN drought relief projects on January 31, 2016. Ethiopia is struggling with its worst drought for 30 years, with millions in dire need of life-saving aid, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on January 31. At least 10.2 million people need food aid in Ethiopia, a figure the UN has warned could  double within months, casting a fifth of the population into hunger.  / AFP / Colin Cosier

Local residents await the arrival of the UN secretary-general in Ogolcho in Ethiopia’s drought affected Oromia region to tour various UN drought relief projects on Jan. 31. Ethiopia is struggling with its worst drought for 30 years, with millions in dire need of life-saving aid, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. AFP

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—Ethiopia’s leader on Thursday urged the international community to donate more toward emergency food aid for millions of people amid a drought.

Ethiopia “should not be neglected by any means despite all the other crises that are going on elsewhere in the world,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told The Associated Press in an interview.

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“My country deserves more support because we are also sheltering some 750,000 refugees from neighboring countries that need food aid,” he said. “If something goes wrong, it is the international community who has not come in. The aid provided to us so far is very little and it often came very late. I urge organizations like Unicef to come in if they think this is a worst case scenario. Just talking is not a solution.”

Aid agencies and the Ethiopian government say more than 10 million Ethiopians need urgent food aid and more than $1.4 billion is needed to deal with the crisis, with only half of that secured so far.

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The US has been the biggest donor, giving more than $532 million in humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia since October 2014.

The Ethiopian government has also spent about $380 million of its own money.

The drought was brought on by the El Niño climate phenomenon that affected seasonal rains, causing crops to fail and killing livestock.

Ethiopia was devastated by a drought in the 1980s exacerbated by a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands.

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