Despite a massive international airlift of food and medicine to drought-stricken Ethiopia, death and misery still stalk the country's rural regions.
Despite a massive international airlift of food and medicine to drought-stricken Ethiopia, death and misery still stalk the country's rural regions. An estimated 100,000 peasants are thought to have died so far. Many thousands more are doomed to die before the end of the year.
For most areas of the north African Kingdom, the drought began three years ago with the failure of the annual rains. For the following two years the people dug into their grain reserves, then began slaughtering their cattle. This year, as the drought continued to suck the land dry, they began selling their land and homes for food. Finally they began and long and pathetic march to the relief centres.
But although the disaster was growing to massive proportions there was apparently no plea for international aid from the Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian government has now denied it deliberately kept the famine a secret for political reasons and has claimed its pleas to the world were ignored.
Since then relief workers have reported horror stories of whole villages dying of malnutrition and disease. In one village 212 children out of 250 are reported to be orphans while in another at least a third of the current survivors will still die despite medical aid.
However, experienced workers say the worst could be over, and there are indications that the death rate has dropped, although marginally. Even so it's unlikely the final death toll will be less than 150,000 dead.