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Ethiopia distributes food aid amid “famine deaths”

The government of Ethiopia says it is dispatching food and non-food items to 5.6 million drought victims within 72 hours amidst reports of deaths as a result of famine.The announcement on Wednesday comes as the Bena Tsemai ethnic group in South State complained over the delay and insufficiency of the emergency food aid.

Mitku Kassa, Commissioner of the National Disaster Risk Management said the food aid is being provided as per the international standard with 15 kg of wheat, half liters of oil and 4.5 kg of nutritious food to children per head.

Local residents told APA that the drought has claimed some lives of in the country’s southernmost state which the government denies.

He said the government is delivering fodder and water to avoid death of breeding animals while encouraging the pastoralists to destock other animals.

Below average rains in the southern and eastern parts of the country caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole and La Niña have led to new symptoms of drought, the country’s Meteorological Agency said.

The drought is severe in parts of the affected areas especially in the regional state of Ethiopian Somali, the lowlands of Borena, Bale and Gujji zones of Oromia regional state; and South Omo zone of the SNNP.

In an interview with state television, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen said food requirement for this year includes a carryover of needy population from the previous year and new drought affected peoples in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

The government has allocated $47 million to mitigate the drought in the affected areas.

According to him, the government is implementing a strategy that would help to avoid human loss and maintain, as much as possible, the livestock population.

The Deputy Premier added that the drought response programs are being conducted without affecting the ongoing development programs that are currently underway in the country.

He said the number of people who need emergency aid has declined to 5.6 million from 10.2 million last year, showing a 44 percent decrease.

Those affected by the drought could decline further if the belg rains start this month, the deputy minister added.

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