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UNOCHA sounds caution on impending crisis in Ethiopia

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Cows walk past a tank damaged in fighting between Ethiopian government and Tigray forces, near the town of Humera, Ethiopia, March 3, 2021. Picture taken March 3, 2021. To match Special Report ETHIOPIA-CONFLICT/EXPULSIONS REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Cows walk past a tank damaged in fighting between Ethiopian government and Tigray forces, near the town of Humera, Ethiopia, March 3, 2021. Picture taken March 3, 2021. To match Special Report ETHIOPIA-CONFLICT/EXPULSIONS REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has warned against an impending humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia fueled by a combination of climatic shocks, conflict and economic shocks.

Ethiopia is once again on the verge of a major humanitarian situation due to cycles of multiple, often overlapping crises, which severely weakens communities’ ability to cope,” the agency said in its latest Ethiopia humanitarian situation report issued Wednesday. The humanitarian crises in Ethiopia, it said, is primarily driven by the convergence of four major factors that are climate crises mainly manifested through floods and drought, armed conflicts, disease outbreaks, as well as economic shocks. “The convergence of these shocks are pushing more people into displacement, food insecurity, malnutrition, disease outbreaks, and increased protection concerns amid rising global prices of essential commodities, inflation, and continual devaluation of the local currency,” it said. It said the humanitarian crisis, mainly conflict and other factors such as flooding, affected the East African country’s education system, resulting in damaged and non-functional school facilities as millions of children were missing school across the country. Figures from the UNOCHA indicate that in the Amhara region alone, more than 2.5 million children remain out of school because of the impact of the Northern Ethiopia conflict and the ongoing armed hostilities in different parts of the region.

Noting that Ethiopia is among the countries most susceptible to climatic shocks, not least drought and flooding caused by erratic rainfall patterns, the UNOCHA said the frequency and magnitude of climatic shocks is increasing and severely affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the country. “Erratic rains have impacted their crop and livestock production and slowed down their ability to recover as income from the sale of these plummeted. Scaled-up humanitarian response and resilience building are urgently required for the internally displaced persons, vulnerable host communities and the returning IDPs,” it said.

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