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Geneva Conference Commits $630 Million for Vital Aid in Ethiopia

The humanitarian response plan for 2024, endorsed by the United Nations (UN) and co-organized with the Governments of Ethiopia and the United Kingdom, remains severely underfunded at just five percent of the required \(3.24 billion. The primary objective of the conference is to secure commitments that will bolster life-saving assistance for approximately 15.5 million individuals throughout 2024. A critical immediate funding injection of \)1 billion is imperative to sustain aid operations over the next five months.

The crisis, exacerbated by recurrent droughts, floods, and conflicts, is anticipated to impact 10.8 million people with food insecurity and malnutrition during the lean season from July to September. The displacement of 4.5 million individuals from their residences has raised alarms regarding public health and protection services. The El Niño phenomenon has exacerbated drought conditions in the northern highlands, resulting in diminished water resources, arid pastures, and reduced crop yields.

Notably, malnutrition rates in regions such as Afar, Amhara, and Tigray are on a concerning upward trajectory, underscoring the urgent necessity for financial support. Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia, highlighted the extensive destruction of vital infrastructure due to conflicts, emphasizing the challenges faced in ensuring the security and well-being of humanitarian workers across various parts of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government’s recent endorsement of a new national policy for disaster risk management, coupled with a commitment of $250 million for food aid in the upcoming months, signifies a proactive approach to addressing the crisis. Furthermore, regional administrations and the private sector within the country have allocated additional resources to bolster emergency response efforts.

During the event, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Joyce Msuya, shared an Amharic proverb illustrating the strength derived from unity in the face of adversity. She commended the collective efforts showcased through 21 cash pledges, notably from the United States and the United Kingdom, demonstrating solidarity in achieving common objectives for the benefit of the Ethiopian populace.

Dr. Mike Ryan, representing the World Health Organization (WHO), raised concerns about the ongoing cholera outbreak spanning 20 months, with over 41,000 reported cases, alongside more than 1.1 million malaria cases this year. These health crises are unfolding in regions where millions lack access to essential medical services, further exacerbated by environmental challenges like droughts and floods. Dr. Ryan emphasized the critical need for urgent funding to sustain WHO’s life-saving health interventions, citing a significant shortfall in the required $187 million to maintain operations effectively.