Monday, 21 August 2023 07:08

UN and partners providing aid for vulnerable across Ethiopia as 1.2 million children suffer acute malnutrition

© UNICEF/Hema Balasundaram
A boy receives a measles inoculation at a health centre in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. (file)

The UN and partners are responding to disease outbreaks and an ongoing food insecurity crisis across Ethiopia which has left 1.2 million children suffering severe acute malnutrition.

The country was deeply impacted by a brutal conflict which began in 2020 across the north between Ethiopian Government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), although a peace deal between the sides was brokered by the African Union, ending the fighting last November.

Briefing journalists at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said that humanitarians were providing medical supplies, logistics support and boosting communications efforts in response to a cholera outbreak in Oromia, Sidama, and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, as well as Somali regions.

Cholera and malaria response

“According to national authorities, more than 16,800 cases of cholera have been reported, including 212 related deaths, as of 2 August”, he said.

“We are also providing medical supplies for the response to malaria which, as of 30 July, has impacted over 1.7 million people and claimed 200 lives.”

He said more than 30 UN agencies and international and national NGOs were working hard to combat the effects of malnutrition which remains a concern in several regions including Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Sidama, South West and Tigray.

In June and July, more than 26,000 mothers and children received nutrition support in Amhara and Southern Oromia, Mr. Dujarric continued, with humanitarian colleagues providing cash transfers to more than 310,000 people in Somali region, while more than 850,000 men, women and children in drought-affected regions have also received cash support.

Timely measures

“Our humanitarian colleagues noted that timely food assistance, prepositioning of emergency drugs, and medical supplies for impacted people are necessary”, the UN Spokesperson said. “More than 1.2 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition across Ethiopia.”

He reminded that the $4 billion humanitarian appeal for 2023 for Ethiopia, is only 27 per cent funded.

“The food sector has received less than 25 per cent of the $2.2 billion required.”

Around four months ago, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it had no choice but to suspend food aid to Ethiopia, following widespread thefts and diversions of critical aid, inside the country.

According to news reports, the agency has now begun to distribute some food supplies to a limited number of districts in the Tigray region, to test new enhanced controls and measures for delivering food assistance.