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Addis Ababa, Yesterday in Addis Ababa, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced that the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional $319 million (over 17 billion Birr) in lifesaving humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia and $12 million (646.7 million Birr) through the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to support refugees, asylum-seekers, and people affected by conflict and drought. The Secretary also formally launched USAID’s new five-year Joint Emergency Operation (JEOP 2.0) which began in June 2022 and is targeting 8.5 million beneficiaries. This project is providing Ethiopians with U.S.-sourced emergency food assistance commodities such as cereals, pulses, and vegetable oil.
Communities across southern and southeastern Ethiopia face a potential sixth consecutive below-average rainy season from March-May 2023, which threatens to further exacerbate the suffering of millions already reeling from the effects of unprecedented drought. At the same time, the country is grappling with insecurity and recovering from the hostilities in northern Ethiopia’s Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. Combined, the conflict and historic drought have generated catastrophic levels of need, leaving at least 20 million people requiring humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia. Ongoing drought worsens growing food insecurity, crop and livestock losses further devastate livelihoods, and limited access to safe water creates a breeding ground for disease.
Yesterday’s announcement will allow USAID partners to provide critical aid for more than five million people across Ethiopia. This includes emergency food assistance to severely food insecure families; nutritional support to prevent and treat malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women and children under five; farming and agricultural support to prevent crop and livestock losses; urgent health treatment; clean water to prevent disease outbreaks often prevalent during drought; and support to protect women and children from a higher risk of violence as a result of this ongoing emergency. The $12 million in additional funding from PRM will help provide lifesaving assistance for the more than 888,000 refugees and asylum-seekers currently living in Ethiopia.
The United States remains the single largest humanitarian donor to Ethiopia, providing more than $1.8 billion in lifesaving assistance since fiscal year 2022, but it will not be enough to address the staggering level of needs. Even if adequate rains occur in 2023, recovery from a drought of this magnitude will take years. The United States has stepped up to meet the majority of immediate funding gaps to save lives now, but we need other donors to mobilize to reach Ethiopia’s most vulnerable communities.
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