Children dying of hunger in Ethiopia
23 June 2008
Caritas Internationalis aims to provide 22,000 children with supplementary food and up to 4,500 pregnant women and new mothers with extra rations over the next five months.
Caritas has launched a US$1.3 million emergency appeal to feed mothers and children in Ethiopia after critical food shortages have led to a sharp rise in malnutrition levels.
Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organisation for 162 national Catholic charities, aims to provide 22,000 children with supplementary food and up to 4,500 pregnant women and new mothers with extra rations over the next five months.
“I was in Ethiopia two weeks ago and I saw malnourished children die. Even though they’d come to a health centre, it was already too late for them. Without help, the numbers of children at risk will increase,” said Caritas Germany desk officer Wolfgang Fritz.
Caritas Germany is working with Caritas Ethiopia – the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat – to co-ordinate the response to the crisis on behalf of Caritas Internationalis.
“Our focus is on children under ten years old, with those under five as a priority. We are also targeting pregnant and new mothers with food aid. Mothers often give up their food to ensure their children eat. Nursing mothers and small children are least able to cope when food is scarce,” said Mr. Fritz.
Although parts of Ethiopia are green and the rains have now come, the failure of two successive rainy seasons means many people will have to wait until October to harvest food which they have planted.
“People may be able to deal with the failure of one rainy season,” said Mr. Fritz, “But when the rains fail twice, it’s just too much for people to cope with and the situation gets dramatic.”
Mothers and children in Adigrat, Awassa, Emdebir, Hararghe, Meki and Soddo Hossana will be the focus of the Caritas’ appeal. Besides food, Caritas also intends to provide clean drinking water and medication to the mothers and children.
Nearly one million people died in Ethiopia in 1984-5 in a famine caused by drought.
Caritas has worked in Ethiopia for fifty years. It links emergency work to rehabilitation and sustainable development and works to improve people’s ability to cope with disasters.
For more information, please contact Michelle Hough on 0039 06 69879752 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org