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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
CAFOD on standby for Ethiopia food crisis
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¬†The Catholic Aid Agency CAFOD is gearing up to help the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea facing severe food shortages that could affect over 15 million people. Emergencies officer Alistair Dutton is leaving shortly for Eritrea to assess how CAFOD can work with partners in the country where it is estimated that two thirds of the population will be at risk. He will be working with the Eritrean Catholic Secretariat to prepare an appeal detailing what response is needed. Ethiopian partner CRDA has already received £50,000 from CAFOD to use towards relief work and an appeal from the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat is currently being considered. CAFOD sister agencies, Catholic Relief Services and Trocaire are also scaling up their operations in the country to respond to need. "In responding to this current food crisis, CAFOD has more than two decades of experience in the area on which to draw," said Alistair Dutton. "We will also be able to use our recently opened office in Addis Ababa which is a joint enterprise with our Irish sister agency Trocaire to co-ordinate on-the-ground relief efforts." Crops across the region have been devastated by the failure of the first or 'belg' rains and the late arrival of the main 'meher' rains. Details of the full scale of the disaster are yet to emerge but United Nations figures state that a worst-case scenario could see over 14.3 million people affected in Ethiopia and a further 1 million needing assistance in Eritrea. Even the most optimistic UN predictions estimate that around 10 million people in Ethiopia and Eritrea will need help by the beginning of next year. CAFOD is on standby to start helping partners run relief programmes. "Whilst we do not know the full extent of the food crisis yet, there is no doubt that there have been widespread crop failures across both countries," said Les Gunbie, CAFOD Team Leader for Ethiopia/Eritrea. "We are already getting reports of unusual migration patterns in the east of the country, as people search for alternative pastures for their livestock." A report sent to CAFOD by the Catholic Bishops of Eritrea states: "The scarcity of food and water is forcing farmers to start selling their livestock at frighteningly low prices. They are then caught in a situation of double jeopardy where livestock flooding the markets pushes prices down while the shortages have sent food prices rocketing."
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