(DW)―The Menschen für Menschen charity has said 5.7 million Ethiopians could die of a lack of food. Part of the problem is that other countries are faring even worse and thus getting most of the publicity.
Some 6 percent of Ethiopia’s population of 98 million suffers from food shortages resulting from a catastrophic drought in the eastern African country. But that doesn’t qualify as a risk of famine for the United Nations, which defines the term as 20 percent of a country’s population having fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of nutrition per day.
The German NGO Menschen für Menschen (People for People), however, is worried that the situation in Ethiopia could deteriorate if Ethiopians’ needs are drowned out by news reports of even more acute food shortages in Somalia, South Sudan and northern Kenya.
“Of course there’s a catastrophe in Somalia, but let’s not forget the situation in Ethiopia,” Menschen für Menschen executive director Peter Renner said on Wednesday at a press conference in Berlin. “It’s not like everything is fine there while there’s a major drought 500 kilometers away. A climate catastrophe doesn’t stop at national borders.”
Menschen für Menschen was founded by the late German actor Karlheinz Böhm in 1981 specifically for Ethiopia. The NGO’s view of the threat of starvation in the country tallies almost exactly with estimates by the UN’s World Food Programme, which says 5.6 million Ethiopians are currently in need of emergency food assistance.
Ethiopia can count itself lucky, Renner said, that the country got a normal amount of rainfall in 2016. But he added that Ethiopians are still struggling to overcome a catastrophic dry spell two years ago.
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