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US gives additional $60mn food assistance to Ethiopia.

September 20, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) -- The U.S. aid agency said it would provide Ethiopia with additional $60 million in food assistance to the Ethiopian people through the U.N. World Food Program. This announcement comes at the time where Ethiopian government denies report about food shortages in different parts of the country, particularly in the Somali region. The contribution consists of nearly 72,000 metric tons (MT) of food commodities, including approximately 33,000 MT of sorghum, 33,000 MT of wheat, 5,000 MT of corn soya blend (CSB), and 1,000 MT of vegetable oil. USAID assistant administrator for democracy, conflict and humanitarian issues Michael Hess and Humanitarian Assistance, and Jeff Borns, Director of the Office of Food for Peace, were in Ethiopia for talks meet with government officials and aid NGOs on the humanitarian situation. They also travelled to the Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples regions of Ethiopia to observe USAID-funded programs and meet with regional officials and USAID partners. This visit comes after an alarming report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) saying that around 4.6 million people in Ethiopia are need of food aid due to a combination of drought and high food prices. Ethiopian authorities dismissed the report but opposition parties accused the government of political manipulation. However the visiting US official, Hess said that there enough aid workers and means to avoid a famine like what had happened 17 years ago and it would not happen this year. "The conditions are worse than they were 17 years ago, when we did have a famine in Somalia, but there are a lot more people working in the area, there's a lot better communications, so I was heartened to hear, because I was concerned about famine, that we might reach it in Somalia, but our partners say it will probably not happen this year, given these conditions," he said. Hess also admitted that aid workers have limited access to the population in parts of Ethiopia's ethnic Somali region known as the Ogaden. The exact number of Ethiopians in need of food aid is in dispute, but it is believed to be between five and 10 percent of the population of more than 80 million. But the government says only 4.6 millions depend on food aid, a figure that aid workers reject. The United States is the largest donor of emergency food assistance to Ethiopia. Since October 2007, the USAID has provided more than 804,000 MT of food assistance to Ethiopia. The US assistance is valued at nearly $627 million, and includes more than $324 million in emergency food commodities and more than $302 million in contributions to the Productive Safety Net Program, a multi-donor effort led by the Ethiopian Government to address chronic food insecurity. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Words:486
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