Conflict, climatic shocks deteriorate overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia: UNOCHA

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ADDIS ABABA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The cumulative impact of ongoing conflict and climatic shocks are deteriorating the overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has warned.

"The overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia has significantly deteriorated since the beginning of the year leading to increased humanitarian needs across the country," the UNOCHA said in its periodic humanitarian situation for Ethiopia issued Monday.

It said the collective impact of ongoing conflict and violence, climatic shocks such as the prolonged drought and more recently floods constitute the main triggers of such a rise.

More than 29 million people were estimated in need of humanitarian assistance and protection at the beginning of 2022, compared to 23.5 million people at the beginning of 2021, and 8.4 million people in 2020, according to figures from the UNOCHA.

It further said nearly three-quarters of the people in need this year are women and children.

The UNOCHA said in conflict-affected parts of northern Ethiopia, the humanitarian situation continues to be dire with high needs across various sectors, including high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

According to the UNOCHA, the East African country is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in the last 40 years following four consecutive failed rainy seasons, eventually pushing an increasing number of people into an alarming situation. Most recent forecasts project that the October-to-December season will also be below average, setting the stage for an unprecedented fifth failed rainy season, it said.

The climatic shock has compromised already fragile livelihoods heavily reliant on livestock, most of which have died, and deepening food insecurity and malnutrition, the UNOCHA said.

"People living in these same areas have barely managed to recuperate from the severe drought in 2017 followed by an unprecedented desert locust infestation, which further deteriorated vegetation, to witness again such harsh conditions, the first signs of which started appearing toward the end of 2020," the situation update read.

It said at least 8 million people in Ethiopia's Somali, Oromia, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples' (SNNP) and South-West regions are currently affected by the drought, warning that the figure is under review and it is expected to increase once an assessment of new areas affected by the drought is completed, including in Afar.

According to the latest UN data, more than 2.1 million livestock have died, while at least 22 million are at risk and are very weak and emaciated with no or little milk production, the main source of nutrition for children.

In some areas, drought is also compounded with violence, including in southern Oromia region due to conflict and in the Somali region due to inter-communal conflicts, exacerbating previous humanitarian needs and hindering access to hundreds of thousands of people in need of assistance, the UNOCHA said. Enditem

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