- Title: [SW News] NAIROBI,
Kenya (AP) Starving Ethiopians Hit With Rain
- Date :[Friday, May 05, 2000
10:52 AM EDT]
Hit With Rain
Story Filed: Friday, May 05, 2000 10:52 AM EDT
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Ethiopians starving after a prolonged drought are now
being threatened by heavy rains that are crippling food deliveries, an aid
official said today.
Southeast Ethiopia -- one of the areas hit hardest by the three-year
drought -- has seen two days of downpours, said Vincent Nicod of the
International Committee of the Red Cross.
``In the short term, if the rain continues, we might see an increase in
people dying ... because relief planes cannot land, and trucks cannot make
it to isolated areas'' because of muddy roads, Nicod said.
He said the rains could also kill cattle, the mainstay of the nomadic
subsistence. Rain will spur new grass to grow, and it is difficult, if not
deadly, for living creatures to digest food after an extended period of
hunger or starvation.
The Red Cross has already canceled three flights into the Somali region that
would have carried 135 tons of supplementary food stuffs, Nicod said, and
more flights are expected to be canceled. The agency has been flying up to
three relief planes from Nairobi to southeast Ethiopia each day.
Normal seasonal rains have failed to come for the past three years in the
region, which is home to 3.5 million Ethiopians, 70 percent nomads. The
region had become a barren, arid dust bowl, devoid of vegetation. Thousands
of livestock and hundreds of people have died.
The U.N. World Food Program estimates that there are some 16 million people
at risk in the Horn of Africa. In January, the Ethiopian government made a
formal appeal for 836,800 tons of emergency food aid to assist an estimated
7.7 million people.