15% Of Ethiopian Population Now Need Emergency Food Aid
GENEVA (AFP)--Some 4.9 million more Ethiopians are in urgent need of food aid, the U.N. said Tuesday, bringing the total number of people in Ethiopia who need relief aid to 12 million, or 15% of the population.
"In addition to the 7 million that continue to be assisted, 4.9 million people need emergency food assistance," said Elizabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The latest figure is based on an assessment conducted by U.N. agencies in November and December, which concluded that some $454.3 million was needed to fund aid in Ethiopia during the first half of 2009.
Poor rainfall and harvests are hurting many in the east of the country, said Byrs.
"Concerns are high over continuing food insecurity, in the coming months, in parts of the country," she said.
Ethiopia is Africa's second most populous country, with around 80 million inhabitants, and has been badly affected by droughts, civil conflict and rising food prices.
Despite the tough conditions, the country is hosting increasing numbers of asylum seekers crossing over from Somalia into eastern Ethiopia's Somali Region.
Byrs said that about 10,000 asylum seekers had arrived this year and 150 more people were crossing the border daily.
"In Somali Region, malnutrition and food insecurity will likely exacerbate during the coming dry season from January to mid-April," she said.
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