ADDIS ABABA, (The Southern African Times) – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday announced “an unprecedented” funding gap of 426 million U.S. dollars across its operations in Ethiopia.
As conflict spills across Northern Ethiopia, forcing 300,000 people from their homes and 1.7 million into hunger in Afar and Amhara regions, the WFP appealed for urgent funds to meet the needs of up to 12 million people this year.
The WFP started delivering emergency relief food assistance to communities in regions bordering the conflict-hit Tigray region this month.
The agency announced its plans to immediately reach 530,000 people in Afar region and 250,000 people in Amhara region, which will eventually scale up as needs increase and if funding is received.
Meanwhile, the WFP said that food security continues to worsen in Tigray, as the agency and its partners struggle to scale up and meet the urgent food needs of 5.2 million people across the region.
The WFP-led convoy of over 100 trucks carrying 3,500 metric tons of food and other life-saving cargo, which includes fuel, health and shelter items, had arrived in the Tigray region capital, Mekelle over the weekend.
“WFP welcomes the collaboration from federal and local authorities in Afar to ensure our convoy finally made it safely into Tigray,” a WFP statement quoted Michael Dunford, WFP Regional Director for Eastern Africa, as saying.
“But much more is needed and this momentum must be sustained otherwise we cannot hope to deliver enough food to save millions from falling deeper into hunger,” the director added.
According to the WFP, the prolonged combined effects of drought, flooding, desert locust invasions, market disruptions and high food prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic are being exacerbated by the recent conflict spreading across the northern parts of the country.