Tuesday, June 3, 2008 - 17:00AFP News Briefs List
4.5 million drought-stricken Ethiopians need food aid: govt
The number of Ethiopians in need of emergency food aid in drought-affected regions has risen to 4.5 million, a government body said on Tuesday.
"Emergency beneficiaries have increased from 2.2 million to 4.5 million people as a result of change in seasonal performance," Simon Mechale, head of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency, said at a press conference.
The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, had said last month that 3.4 million people were in need of emergency assistance in southern and central regions affected by one of the 80-million-strong country's worst droughts in years.
The government had recently promised that not a single Ethiopian child would ever die of hunger again, but the soaring cost of basic commodities has compounded the crisis.
Ethiopia's appeals for international help to tackle famine come at a time when a controversial bill that could restrict the activities of international aid organisations is to be examined by parliament.
Aid groups and donor countries have vowed to press the government on the issue, warning that too many curbs on the work of NGOs could lead to a shortfall in foreign funding.