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There is 1998 "old page" famine related.

Famine Y2K

The Moment of Giving

Why Live Aid won't work this time
by Miles Bredin.

Ethiopia is back in the news and it is the same story: no rain for three years and eight million people at risk of starving to death.

There's a twist this time though. The Ethiopian government knows what could happen but seems willing to let people die. In 1984-5, during the Live Aid Famine, there was a savage dictator - Colonel Haile Mariam Mengistu - stopping food reaching the worst-hit areas because they were fighting for his overthrow.

Drivers from Rest, the Tigrean relief agency, had to clear minefields at night to avoid government bombs when they delivered food. Their efforts saved many but between 800,000 and a million died.

Fifteen years later, it's happening again. But it is the same brave fighters - who overthrew Mengistu - that are stopping food getting to Ogaden and southern Ethiopia. They are not bombing convoys like Mengistu - who lives in Zimbabwe - but may as well be.

Ethiopia is land-locked, so food has to be delivered by road. Therein lies the government's problem - few roads, fewer friends. To the east is Somalia, through which no aid can travel. To the south is Kenya, a haven of peace until 10 days ago when 14 people were killed by a mine on the only road north. And to the west, there is southern Sudan, victim of endless famine, civil war and bereft of aid workers.

That leaves the north - Eritrea - natural ally of the Tigreans, whose Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) led the final attack on Mengistu's palace in 1991. But the two leaders of the EPLF and the Tigrean People's Liberation Front (TPLF) - President Issayas Afeworki and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi - are at war.

They are distant cousins who went to university together, fought in the Bush for 15 years together and overthrew Mengistu together. But now they are enemies, over a useless patch of land. Ethiopia's deputy water resources minister Abdu Rashid Tulani said it was "ridiculous" to suggest that they should accept aid through Assab - Eritrea's Red Sea port - since the two countries are in combat with each other. In any other circumstances, this would be absurd.

But it is the war itself that is ridiculous. Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, was right when she told Ethiopia that "instead of concentrating on this useless war with Eritrea you should be concentrating on digging wells". Without peace between the two countries, the only way to get food to southeastern Ethiopia is through Djibouti, an inefficient port.

The Tigrean government of Mr Zenawi may not have caused these people to become skeletons but it is its actions that are certainly contributing to keeping them that way.

If help does not get through to them soon, their entire way of life will disappear. Pastoralists, who make a marginal living on the plains between Somalia and Ethiopia, have suffered enough. The Cold War may never have heated up in the West, but it was fought savagely by proxy on these people's lands. The international community owes it to them to keep them alive now that they are starving. At present there is a surplus of aid workers in Nairobi who pulled out of southern Sudan a few weeks ago. The food does not run out until June and more is being pledged each day. But the problem is how to deliver it.

The trickle that can get through Djibouti will not be enough. What is needed is the political will to force Eritrea and Ethiopia to make peace. Without that, the Ogadenis will be lost forever.

Around the town of Gode, Ethiopia, 95 per cent of livestock has died but more can be bred from the remaining five per cent. The Ogadenis are proud: they do not want to be beggars.

That they have left their pastures to seek help in Gode and other towns is a bad sign. But, if they can be helped, they can carry on with their lives. If a solution to the "useless war" cannot be found, however, they are destined to become aid-dependent.

Miles Bredin is a former UPI bureau chief for East Africa. His latest book, is The Pale Abyssinian.

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© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 07 April 2000

Ethiopian Community Center in Sacramento
P.O. Box 162025
Sacramento, CA 95816-2025

or alternatively you can mail to:

Account #: 6464667807
Wells Fargo Bank, N. A. #0357
National Business Banking Center
P.O. Box 340214
Sacramento, CA 95834-0214

We are very grateful for your generous intention to support our activities in aid of war victims all over the world with a financial contribution.

You can either send a check to the

International Committee of the Red Cross
REX/PRO 19, Av. de la Paix
CH-1202 Geneva

or send your contribution directly to our following bank account UBS SA
P.O. Box 2600
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Account No. 240-CO129986.4 (USD)
or Account No. 240-CO129986.0 (CHF)

1. Donations do the ICRC are tax deductable in the United States. Please contact your local tax office for further details.

2. The ICRC has two different budget structures, one for headquaters and one for operations in the field.

If you make a contribution for use in Ethiopia, 100% of it will be used in this country.

3. Please find hereafter the latest communication to the press regarding Ethiopia.

Communication to the press No. 00/05
12 April 2000
Ethiopia: ICRC relief operation begins in Gode

An ICRC-chartered Hercules C-130 landed this morning at Gode airport carrying 15 metric tonnes of emergency food aid for the communities most severely affected by drought and famine in Ethiopia's Somali National Regional State. The emergency operation is scheduled to last at least until the end of June.

For the first two months of the operation the ICRC has set aside a total of 4,512 tonnes of aid, which will be airlifted every day from Nairobi to Gode and then delivered by road to all the villages in the districts of Imi, Gode, Denan and Adaadle.

The aid consists of rations of oil and pre-cooked fortified food (maize, soya, sugar), which is needed to supplement the wheat already distributed by the Ethiopian Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission.

These rations will be distributed by village elders to the 188,000 drought and famine victims in the four affected districts, where high malnutrition rates have been registered. The distributions will be monitored by ICRC relief teams in cooperation with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society.
If the "Gu" rains expected this month fail to come, the operation will last until the next harvest season in December.

The ICRC has been working in Ethiopia since 1977. Its delegation currently employs 40 expatriates and around 150 local staff. The head office is based in Addis Ababa and there are four sub-offices in Makale, Gode, Jijiga and Harar.
Further information : Amanda Williamson, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel. ++251 1 518 366
Urs Boegli, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 2389

Who Is To Blame Independent

Alexandra Antohin
April 15, 2000

Time to Stop the Famine in Africa

At the advent of yet another famine in an impoverished country, the traditional definition of “aid” may prove more damaging than salvaging. Being part of a world wide community, countries that are economically and socially troubled look to their neighbors for advice. In the case of an emergency, these “big brother” nations feel somewhat compelled to respond to a threat of a crisis. These countries usually provide relief or aid, which are either food, money or both. Instinctually, food seems the most reasonable to replenish emaciated people.

Just as everywhere, a country can experience a bad crop year or two. However, such a devastating punishment is never lashed out on people as is the case in the Horn of Africa. The undeveloped countries depend fervently on crops alone, thus if such a disaster strikes, the citizens are left stranded for life. Following the pattern of the past century, a country like Ethiopia is experiencing the most severe outbreak of famine since the well-known campaign in 1984. As compared with other countries threatened by this disaster (Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya), Ethiopia is most at risk, having about two million at risk in the Amhara region alone, being one small portion of the country. Due to a universal trend of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans experiencing cooler sea temperatures, the Horn of Africa is experiencing low rainfalls. Thus, this region has went through very minimal rainfall in three years, and have yet to receive it this year. Since the whole food cycle is off-schedule, Ethiopia’s vital crop production will be hard to regain (these rainy seasons make up 50% of agricultural production).

The other main parallel between this crisis and past ones has been the simultaneous occurrence of starvation and war. A border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has diverted attention away from it’s people, and the Ethiopian government is accused of spending more money and time on warfare than on those who are starving from failed crops. While crops have estranged many, the government persists on this war which swallows about one million dollars a day. Corresponding to the situation, there is the issue of limited access to Ethiopia; the main two ports to the country are located in Eritrea. The Assab and Massawa ports have been opened up to facilitate access to Ethiopia, though with a series of restrictions, one being that any aid given to Ethiopia through these ports can’t support the Ethiopian army. This is one concern which the international community has looked at, especially since it is still hesitant about giving relief under these ambiguous conditions. Just as the Ethiopians and the relief organizations have no control over where the aid goes to, they also can’t secure the fact that it doesn’t reach everyone. The political nature of this crisis hinders the relief process, making it be less swifter and coming to late for the eight million* that are at risk.

So, as most dependent countries do, Ethiopia seeks international input for salvaging the droughts that have compounded into a future catastrophe. An estimated one million tons of food is said to be the amount needed to give the ability to over come the drought. The international community is quick to put out charity, but faces the problem of getting it to the starving. However, this can also be seen as an excuse to dwindle the process of relief, due to the complications of delivering the aid. Considering those factors, the European Commission has reduced it’s pledge of a mere 50,000 tons, and this is reduced from the 1999 shipments which were only half of what was initially promised. The U.S allegedly promised 400,000 tons, though this has been problematic, leading the shipments to be looted and in some cases derailed in support to the Eritrean army. Though the UK promised 3.8 million dollars towards the aid effort, this method is even worse, allowing money to be squandered and misused, many times to support political warfare. Thus, leading countries are leery to give and by doing so, fail to act quickly with sufficient amounts of funds.

Is tonnage really the solution? The old saying “give man a fish, he eats for a day, teach man to fish, he eats for a lifetime” is of great relevance to such a concurring subject. Countries such as Ethiopia need stronger economies and maybe then they wouldn’t have to deal with civil unrest between the government and the citizens. It is painfully clear now, that what the world did in 1984, though well-intentioned, was not the solution. The world poured out it’s heart because it’s hard to see the faces of the starving, especially the children which are most susceptible to this outbreak. As in 1984, the public pushed their governments to help the devastation in Ethiopia, and the media’s stampede on this issue helped this process along. The international community, however, did as they do now, wait without urgency until the last minute when it’s too late. From that statement, one can reason that public awareness is what onset the strong campaign for the famine. This campaign, however, only started after tens of thousands had already died and aid agencies had already pleaded for months for help to feed the troubled. Once the pleading shifted from federal to public donations, then the international community paid attention. Pictures of starving Ethiopians covered television screens for months, in a way paying homage to those who died that day, and the urgency of public awareness. By the end of 1985, the sudden rush of attention and relief made the crisis dwindle down, but Ethiopia was now crowned as the epitamy of the poor, just a little more than 10 years after the “peoples revolution” died.

The common reaction in such a dilemma is to immediately want to help or wonder why nobody is helping. Very few even knew that a famine once again has enslaved the Horn of Africa, especially since practically not one mention of it has taken place in the public eye. Some may say that the public is exhausted by this subject and is cynical towards reaching out to other nations which keep asking for aid. In some ways, it’s a blessing that the public hasn’t demanded coverage on this issue. Though the public’s persistence is what saved the Ethiopians in the mid-eighties, it has a damaging effect on how the world perceives under-developed countries. The viewer saw the face of a hollow child and sent a few buck over, just so they wouldn’t see them on T.V anymore. Ethiopia is just an exaggerated example of how quick-fixes have plunged such countries in worse shape then they were twenty years ago.

Time is the most important factor and an indicator of the toll this famine might take next. In 1974, famine broke due to the Marxist revolution and down fall of the three thousand year old monarchy, causing 300 thousand to perish in this epidemic. Ten years later, one million have died in 1984-85 famine. Another fifteen years have passed, and the number that are threatened has risen to eight million. Just looking at those numbers show this cycle has become more deadly and in order for us not to estimate how many will die this time, urgent action must take place.

Ultimately, a donor is left bewildered as to what to do with such a demanding condition. “Relief” in past terms has proved to be a failure, so do we throw up our hands and attempt to ignore such a challenging dilemma? Its not that the public fears being involved, they fear their involvement will be abused. If donors were to apply themselves to aid organizations that, for example, breed cattle with particular families which later can produce a substantial income (Heifer Project), or aid groups that assist farmers to open up small businesses that helps both parties involved (Farmers’ Own). These proposals may seem very broad and untangible goals at the moment, but so does the hope that starvation will someday end. By investing in organizations that teach or assist these nations on how to adjust to the modern world by incorporating ancient techniques (farming, trading, e.t.c), such countries like Ethiopia can have more of a chance at standing tall, in hope that someday it can pass on the message.

Millions in Africa are in need of our immediate help and the solutions of this curse of the past, which has no place in the 21st Century.

Alexandra Sellassie Antohin is a fifteen year old high school sophomore who is attending several course at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. This essay was inspired by an English assignment and her parents constant advocacy on the subject. Alexandra is the great- granddaughter of Haile Sellassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. Her family was involved in the 1985 famine fundraising in New York. Details are at http://sellassie.ourfamily.com

115 Kelsan Way Fairbanks, AK 99709 (907)455-6149

Skies rain fish on dry southern Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, May 31 (Reuters) - Drought-stricken peasant farmers tending their fields in southern Ethiopia got a nasty shock when the heavens opened and they were pelted by fish, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday.

``The unusual rain of fish which dropped in millions from the air -- some dead and others still struggling -- created panic among the mostly religious farmers,'' the weekly Amharic newspaper said.

Saloto Sodoro, a fish expert in the region, attributed the phenomenon to heavy storms in the Indian Ocean which swept up the fish before shedding them on the unsuspecting farmers.

Southern Ethiopia has been in the grip of a severe drought for two years which aid officials say threatens the lives of up to eight million people.

14:17 05-31-00

Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

Famine, Politics, History : Commentary
I don't know even where to start. In 1985 when we did the fundraising, it was said so many times that the food aid is only an emergency help and Ethiopia does need different types of assistance. India went through its agricultural revolution and we do not see starvation there anymore. It was said that the issue is the economy and in order to change it, there must be political changes. The list was long -- land reforms, banking reforms (so the farmers can have loans to invest in their land), bringing in the specialists in arrigation, etc. It was 15 years ago. So, where are we today? What was done? The same US Congress would ask the same questions, when it was said long ago -- make the assistance conditional, exercise this American leadership when there is a lack of leadership in Ethiopia, insist on political and economical changes in the country. Ten years ago there was a historical opportunity to set Ethiopia on the right track of democratic and therefore economic development. No, the US messed up its policy in Ethiopia to the point that they had to replace the embassador. Where is the intelligence, which can't get the report BBC gets? Famines do not happen over night. US government should know what to expect and what not to expect from the government in Addis.

It's all interconnected. Of course, the US military can deliver the food in a matter of days, but after the fiasco in Somalia unlikely anybody in Pentagon would listen.

The same problems, for the same reasons and with the same answers.

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