Ethiopia, a country with a tragic history of famine and hunger, is struggling to feed its people yet again.
At least 12 people are reported to have starved to death in the Guji zone of the Oromia state – though local sources put the figure at nearer 20.
The area has been ravaged by drought, leading to the crisis.
Local authorities in Addis Ababa confirmed to media that at least a dozen people have died of hunger in the region.
Mokonaa Hoxxeessaa, head of the Gonofa Busa, a local emergency relief office in Sabbaa Boruu District in Guji zone, told BBC Afaan Oromoo that most of the dead were children.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called on the government to take action to save lives, particularly in the Oromia and Somali regional states.
“People are suffering from various health problems, their bodies are emaciated due to lack of food, their stomachs and legs are swollen and there are people who are sleeping sick; health care facilities are physically and economically inaccessible,” the Commission said.
The movement of food and other supplies in the affected regions has been made much more difficult due to security concerns and renewed violence.
Adding to the problems is a shortage of purifying chemicals to filter the water being supplied to the region by trucks.
Officials have admitted that
this has led to an outbreak of diarrhea in many households, leading to further health problems.
More than eight million Eth-iopians are in need of food aid, according to the UN.
They include almost 250,000 people who are now living in tents after being forced to flee their homes in the West Guji zone due to the water shortage and threat of violence.
The UN, meanwhile, has warned that hunger is still rising across east Africa.
In a report backed by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it says more than 50 million people in eastern Africa will face acute food insecurity this year.
The Inter-Governmental Auth-ority on Development Regional Focus on Food Crises report sounds the alarm over escalating food insecurity and malnutrition in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.
“The current food security situation across the Horn of
Africa is dire after four consecutive rainy seasons have failed, a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years, or since the beginning of the satellite era,” said Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa.
“Now more than ever, we must implement short-term livelihood-saving responses with long-term resilience building aimed at addressing the root causes of food crises in our region.”
This year, about 300,000 people in Somalia and South Sudan are at the risk of famine should widespread crop and livestock production fail.
A combination of climate extre-mes, conflict, and macroeconomic challenges are making multiple shocks nearly impossible to cope with, the report said.
“Conflict, climate extremes, ec-onomic shocks, rising costs and now the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on food and energy prices are pushing millions towards starvation in eastern Africa,” said Michael Dunford, WFP Regional Director for Eastern Africa.
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