UNICEF Boss Calls for Urgent Response in Ethiopian Humanitarian Crisis

A five-day mission to Ethiopia undertaken by Ted Chaiban, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, has brought to light the stark realities of widespread hunger in certain regions, necessitating swift intervention to mitigate the unfolding crisis. Chaiban emphasized the imperative for the international community to promptly augment their assistance for children and families to forestall further deterioration of the humanitarian situation across the nation.

Drawing from his firsthand observations during the visit, Chaiban disclosed Ethiopia’s confronting of numerous crises, with demands eclipsing response capacities, underscoring the pressing need for increased support to address the multifaceted challenges.

“The El Niño-induced drought, affecting northern, central, and southern Ethiopia, is exacting a devastating toll on millions of children. Projections for 2024 indicate nearly 1 million children will endure acute malnutrition, while approximately 350,000 pregnant and lactating women will suffer from malnourishment,” remarked Chaiban.

He recounted his visit to one of the severely impacted drought-stricken areas in Tigray, where malnutrition rates have surpassed emergency thresholds. “This region has reached a juncture where families’ resilience has been depleted,” noted Chaiban. “I encountered a mother named Lemlem, who recounted how just as she perceived improvement, the drought struck, leaving her with an expression of profound despair.”

A mother and child filled with smiles during the visit …. courtesy @UNICEF

Compounding the already dire circumstances is the prevalence of a public health crisis characterized by the spread of diseases such as cholera, measles, dengue fever, and malaria throughout the nation. “These diseases pose lethal threats to children and are eminently preventable,” emphasized Chaiban. “Furthermore, the country contends with the ramifications of conflict, exacerbating vulnerabilities among communities.”

UNICEF, in close collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia and other stakeholders, is diligently engaged in responding to the crises by furnishing nutritional aid, ensuring access to safe water, administering routine immunizations, facilitating education, and delivering child protection services. Nevertheless, there remains an urgent imperative for intensified efforts.

“If we take decisive action now, we can avert the loss of countless children’s lives,” asserted Chaiban. “However, we require adequate resources to bolster our humanitarian endeavors. Additionally, we earnestly advocate for a peaceful resolution to address unresolved conflicts, thereby enabling us to reach every child in need, irrespective of their location.”

The United Nations in Ethiopia has initiated an appeal for US$3.24 billion, with UNICEF specifically seeking US$535 million to furnish the critical assistance imperative for the well-being of children.

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