UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian office said Monday that food shortages in Ethiopia have reached alarming levels following widespread drought in the country.
Relief organizations are grappling with a “considerable shortage of supplies,” with the U.N. World Food Program in need of $136 million for its operation in the Horn of Africa nation, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports “that the food security situation in Ethiopia has deteriorated to alarming levels in the wake of drought conditions throughout much of the country.”
Last week, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes visited Ethiopia and said the southeast, scene of a long rebellion, is the most worrying of all the regions affected by severe food shortages. He urged aid agencies to help ensure that Ethiopia’s devastating food crisis does not become a famine.
The U.N. says more than four million Ethiopians need emergency assistance and a further eight million need immediate food relief.
Severe floods hit Ethiopia last year, destroying most of the food crops. This year, drought has worsened the situation.
Montas said Monday that flooding in Gambela in southwestern Ethiopia has reportedly displaced nearly 35,000. The World Health Organization has provided emergency drugs and supplies for 10,000 people there, she said.