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Ethiopian famine victims fleeing to cities to save their lives

Famine victims from Wollo region are forced to beg in cities to survive. (Credit: Negere Ethiopia)


Victims of Ethiopia’s current drought who spoke to Negere Ethiopia, a newspaper published in Addis Ababa, said the Ethiopian government did not distribute food aid and other amenities to the starved people in North Eastern Ethiopia.

According to the newspaper, drought victims in Wello have reportedly left their villages for such places as Gondar, Gojam, and Addis Ababa. Some women, along with their children, were seen begging in the streets of Bahirdar, Addis Ababa and Dessie, the report said.

Those in Addis Ababa told Negere Ethiopia that their next of kin and neighbors have already left for Metema, Humera, Dessie, and Addis Ababa.

“We have nothing to eat in our village. People are dying from hunger. The women left for cities like Addis Ababa, while the men went to Metema and Humera to work as daily laborers,” a mother of two, begging in the streets of Addis Ababa told the newspaper. She said there were several people who were left behind in the villages. “We came here because we had the strength to reach here. There are countless children and the elderly who could not leave their villages,” the woman said.

The woman, who roams the streets in Addis with her two children said the government did not provide any food aid to her village. She told the reporter that they would not have left their villages if they had food to eat.

“The family is already displaced. Last year we had crops and cattle; this year we don’t have anything. We were not provided with any help. It is the worst time of my life. I begged people for money so I could pay for my trip here to the city,” another woman with a child and whose husband had left for Metema, Gondar to work as daily laborer told the reporter.

[See Also: Should Eritrea send food aid to Ethiopia?]

A 65 year old elderly who came from Mersa, Wello told Negere Ethiopia, “Crops wither after the rains had failed and we went hungry. We came to this city we have never been before. The only option we have now is to beg people for money and food.”

Another mother who came from Kemise, Wollo a week ago said she came to Addis Ababa, but she did not know where her family members had gone to. Asked whether the government had provided food aid, the elderly mother said she did not know of any aid dispatched to her village. “If I received food aid, why would I come here?” she said and thanked urbanites for helping her in difficult times.

The newspaper said the victims of the drought are on the street in the scorching sun and freezing night exposing their children to illnesses.“This is the only way to save the life of our children,” the paper quoted another woman as assaying.

Early reports filed by ESAT show lack of rain in Tigray, Wollo, Afar, and Somali regions has caused livestock deaths and affected farming practices. Ethiopia’s 85% population depend on small-scale farming that contribute to almost 45% of the country’s GDP.

Currently, about 8.2 million people are in need of food assistance and is expected to increase to 22 million in 2016. Reuters, citing United Nations’ reports, said that Ethiopians who need urgent food aid is expected to reach 22 million in early 2016. But donors are not responding fast enough for urgent calls for food aid to drought-stricken Ethiopia, according to the report.

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