Over 10.2 million threatened by famine
Aid to the Church in Need grants 692,650 CAN in emergency aid
In an interview with ACN, the deputy secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Father Haile Gabriel Meleku, urgently warned about the consequences of the prevailing drought. A total of 10.2 million people are now suffering from famine, about two million more than just a month ago. However, he said that it is to be feared that the actual number is much higher and that those affected desperately need help before there are fatalities. He also said that the government was trying to distribute food from its own warehouses. However, the situation “could not be gotten under control without outside help.”
According to Father Meleku, the drought will kill off the cattle, large numbers of people will leave their villages to find food in other, less affected areas, and, on the search for grazing land for their cattle, nomads will move into areas in which conflict could arise with the resident population. Another consequence will be that more children will no longer be able to attend school.
Father Meleku explained it is “important that the people stay in their villages and that help reaches them there.” He said that the Catholic Church in Ethiopia has worked out an emergency assistance plan. The possibility of reaching those in need more quickly has been made easier since well organized structures have been put into place, although not all areas are equally affected by drought and hunger, “the catastrophe can be felt everywhere.”
He then said that the situation has also influenced the life of the Church. Many parishioners were no longer able to undertake what is for many a three to four-hour walk to church because of the famine. The catechists, who, together with their families, primarily live from farming, are especially in need of help.
Aid to the Church in Need has approved emergency aid for 1,415 catechists in 13 of the famine-stricken dioceses to the amount of $692,650 CAN or $489 CAN dollars per family for the entire year.
Ethiopia is in the top ranks of countries receiving assistance from Aid to the Church in Need. In 2014, projects in the country received more than 1.7 million dollars in aid.
By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada