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UN says $1 billion aid urgently needed for crisis-hit Ethiopia

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The United Nations (UN) appealed for pledges to address the “critical” humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, where more than 21 million people need aid, and a dire food crisis is deepening.

A donor conference at the UN European headquarters aims to raise significant pledges towards the 1 billion U.S. dollars urgently needed to cover aid for the next three months.

“We need to mobilise,” Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Ethiopia, told AFP ahead of the conference.

“The people of Ethiopia need our solidarity and our support.”

Ethiopians are facing rumbling internal conflicts amid economic and climate shocks and an increasingly dire food and malnutrition crisis.

The UN said a whopping 3.24 billion U.S. dollars is needed this year alone, including money to assist some four million internally displaced people. But so far that plan is less than five percent funded.

“The gap remains very wide… we have really to act before it is too late,” Shiferaw Teklemariam, commissioner of the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission, told reporters in Geneva.

The Ethiopian government had committed 250 million U.S. dollars for food support over the coming months, the commissioner added.

The UN said an initial 1 billion was needed for the urgent aid response through the end of June.

It is also needed to prepare for the lean season, from July to September, when around 11 million people are projected to be critically food insecure.

“The humanitarian situation in Ethiopia is critical — but there is a window to act right now to break the downward spiral,” UN humanitarian agency OCHA said.

The event, co-hosted by the governments of Ethiopia and Britain, comes a day after a similar pledging conference for Sudan, held in Paris, raised $2.1 billion.

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