Appeal to end war in Africa to prevent starvation

Foreign governments and international relief agencies implored Ethiopia and Eritrea yesterday to end their war, and thus speed delivery of food aid to prevent the new famine that looms in the Horn of Africa, threatening up to 16 million people with starvation. The worst-affected area is the Ogaden region of south-eastern Ethiopia, suffering its fourth straight year of drought. Aid agencies say the crisis could swiftly spread to other parts of the region, risking a repeat of the devastating 1984-85 famine in which an estimated 1 million people died.

But aid is not coming in fast enough. According to Oxfam, only 15,000 tons have arrived, compared with the 1.2 million-ton requirement estimated by the Ethiopian government, and the 800,000 tons the European Union says it and other donors have earmarked for the crisis. "This has the potential to be a really big disaster," an Oxfam spokesman said. "Much better to respond properly now, even if we later look back and say it wasn't as bad as we feared."

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