ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes USD 60 million from the United Arab Emirates to support their humanitarian response in Ethiopia. The funding will provide emergency food and nutrition assistance in response to an alarming rise in food insecurity, particularly in the north of the country where 19 months of war has almost exhausted people’s coping mechanisms and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes. More than 13 million people require humanitarian food assistance in conflict-affected Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions.
This comes against the backdrop of the global food crisis where rising costs linked to the war in Ukraine are compounding woes. The UAE funds, delivered through the Famine Relief Fund, will allow WFP to continue to address the urgent food needs of 1.6 million people in the conflict-affected north of Ethiopia through food distributions in Tigray, Afar and Amhara. Conditions in Ethiopia have deteriorated due to the combination of conflict, climate shocks and the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the recent crisis in Ukraine. Inflation is at its highest peak in ten years – and the population in need of food assistance has doubled over the past 12 months – to around 20.4 million people.
“This new funding from the UAE comes to Ethiopians in their hour of need. We’ve seen some of the biggest increases in food insecurity across areas that have borne the brunt of recent fighting with homes, harvests, and livestock lost to the conflict and the country’s worst drought in 40 years. As the lean season approaches people will further exhaust all means of coping and WFP’s food assistance is their only lifeline. The next three months are critical and we welcome the support and partnership of the UAE at this time – it is a contribution which will save the lives of millions.” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s Country Director and Representative in Ethiopia.
New contributions from the UAE and other key donors have allowed WFP to continue scaling up its operations in Northern Ethiopia during a critical time for communities ahead of the planting season and since the Government’s announcement of a humanitarian truce in March. WFP-led convoys have been flowing at pace into Tigray over the past ten weeks, over 3,800 trucks have delivered over 130,000 tonnes of food and other lifesaving humanitarian supplies.
With the UAE’s support, WFP will deliver life-saving nutrition treatment to children and women who are malnourished in Ethiopia due to the impacts of conflict and drought. As part of their support to Ethiopia, the UAE airlifted specialized nutritious foods into the Tigray region, where over 20% of children under 5; and 50% of pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished. Meanwhile, almost a third of parents (32 per cent) in Afar zone 4, and 16 per cent in Amhara reported that their young children under five had been admitted to health centres in the previous three months due to malnutrition, according to a recent WFP assessment in conflict-affected zones of both regions.
WFP provides food assistance to over 700,000 refugees every month in Ethiopia, however due to recent funding shortfalls, only 50 per cent of their daily nutritional requirements are currently being met. The UAE contribution will help cover 20% of food assistance to refugees in all camps.
Responding to the acute humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia requires the support and action of many. Resources remain stretched at a time when needs are rising. Despite strong support so far this year, WFP’s ability to maintain its food and nutrition relief efforts through to the end of the year hangs in the balance. WFP is aiming to reach more than 11 million of the most vulnerable over the next six months but is grappling with a staggering US$470 million funding gap.