ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Just two months after a United Nation report predicted an acute food shortage, Ethiopia’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency reports that over 20 % of children in the Ogaden region are malnourished.
The Ethiopian government has promised to ensure that humanitarian aid and food reach the people of the region. However, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONFL) has accused the government army of blocking access to the region thereby causing a man-made famine. Although the Ethiopian government has denied allegations of discrimination, neglect, and abuse, in early September the humanitarian group Medecins sans Frontieres complained that the government denied them access to the region. The ONFL has been fighting for the region’s sovereignty since 1984.
The arid region is the center of rebel attacks, and recent climate change has made the region almost uninhabitable. Livestock, water and grain are scarce. The lack of food and medical supplies is quickly turning the critical situation to a humanitarian emergency.
The Ogaden region, which borders Somalia and Ethiopia, is not the only vulnerable area. According to a report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), all pastoralist children in the Horn of Africa are at risk. The region includes parts of Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
For more information, please see:
BBC- Child hunger ‘crisis’ in Ogaden – 30 October 2007
AllAfrica.com – East Africa: The Pastoralist Way of Life – A Fragile Future for Millions of Children – 30 October 2007