International charities have issued a stark warning about a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia. The North African country has been hit by its worst drought for 50 years. It is widely expected that emergency food aid for 10 million Ethiopians will run out unless more funds can be found. John Graham, the head of the charity Save the Children in Ethiopia, said: "The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe malnutrition cases." He added that: "If these emergency funds do not arrive in time, there is no question that there will be a critical fracture in the food aid supply pipeline."
Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country. It is no stranger to natural disasters of this kind. Famine killed over one million Ethiopians in 1984. The latest drought was brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has caused drought and flooding across much of Africa. Ethiopia is one of the countries hardest hit. Charities say that over 400,000 Ethiopian children under the age of five will suffer from severe malnutrition this year. In addition, 1.7 million under-fives, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers will need treatment for malnutrition. Mr Graham warned that, "the window for action is rapidly closing" as it can take four months to buy food aid and transport it into the landlocked country.