Refugees in Ethiopia could go without food aid

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Food distribution programmes for over 570,000 refugees in Ethiopia may grind to a halt in the next three months due to lack of sufficient donor support, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

The organisation says it urgently needs to raise US $50 million to fund its food aid programme in Ethiopia to the end of 2014.

Since the beginning of the year, Ethiopia has seen a massive influx of refugees escaping war and violence in South Sudan.

The country is now hosting over 145,000 South Sudanese refugees and the number is expected to more than double by the end of the year.

Abdou Dieng is the Director of the WFP office in Ethiopia.

"Because of this influx of refugees, the needs are extremely high. We did a projection of what the need will be for the next year if all remain in Ethiopia. We need about US$250 million a year. Somalia is still not stable, South Sudan is not stable and we don't see any kind of sign for those refugees to go back home. They will remain in Ethiopia and as far as they remain in Ethiopia, the contribution of the government of Ethiopia is to open doors for these people to be hosted and protected, but the international community has the obligation to provide assistance to those refugees."

Majority of the South Sudanese arriving at refugee camps in western Ethiopia are women and children.

WFP says many are arriving in critical nutritional condition having walked for days to reach the border and surviving on foliage and roots along the way.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1’40″

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