MAKALE AND KOREM, ETHIOPIA
The statistics are horrifying.
MAKALE AND KOREM, ETHIOPIA
MAKALE / KOREM ,ETHIOPIA . OCTOBER 1984 (REUTERS MOHAMMED AMIN)
MAKALE: GV People waiting in line for food 0.10
SUC Woman begs and wails her thanks 0.22
GV ZOOM INTO SV & SVs People waiting for food seated in foreground; others, with no hope of getting rations that day, standing behind enclosure (3 shots) 0.48
SV Mother holds emaciated baby to the camera; person sleeping in the open covered with grain sack, with "Gift of the People of the US" written on it (2 shots) 1.10
SVs Women with their babies; babies being fed as part of high-calorie intensive-feeding programme; International Red Cross nurse Claire Bertschinger with mother and emaciated baby (4 shots) 1.32
GV Armed guard among crowds GV People waiting for food (2 shots) 1.39
GV & SVs World Vision worker, Dr Tony Atkins, waling among ailing people; he stops to examine baby (2 shots) 1.49
GV & SVs Workers put up tent shelters; Sign saying tents wee donated by West German Red Cross (2 shots) 2.02
SV & CU INTERIOR Father pulls back wrap from dead baby's body 2.13
GV & SV World Vision aircraft, a Canadian Twin Otter, on tarmac; grain sacks unloaded (2 shots) 2.25
SVs Body of dead man lying on ground; prayers said by minister; mourners weeping (4 shots) 2.50
KOREM: SVs Children being weighed and measured by health workers; young baby on scales (4 shots) 3.09
SVs People gathering water at communal taps; baby on mother's back, drinks from cup; people wait with water containers (3 shots) 3.31
GV PAN Tens of thousands of people seated or lying on the ground 3.42
SV Aid workers mark people on forehead then receive clothing (2 shots) 3.54
GVs Hundreds of children running to aid centre; young boy trying to run as he carries baby (3 shots) 4.09
SVs Old man talking with very young child; young mother with her baby (2 shots) 4.18 InitialsKO'B/BB Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: MAKALE AND KOREM, ETHIOPIA
The statistics are horrifying. Six million people may die in the worst drought in Ethiopia in a decade. It has caused the worst crop in 20 years and will arguably be the most severe famine in modern times. And the evidence itself is even more harrowing. The sheer immensity of the Ethiopian drought has captured hearts, minds and more importantly, money, all over the world. Food, cash, clothing and practical aid have been offered to the Ethiopian Government from all over Europe, the United Kingdom, North America and Australasia. International aid agencies have been working around-the-clock to collect supplies and send them to the drought-stricken areas. And pressure is mounting on the international community to provide still more emergency relief to the millions starving in Ethiopia.
Makale relief camp in the northern province of Tigre...85,000 people have abandoned their home, farms and villages to come to Makale looking for food and medical attention. Most of them find neither. There is only enough food for about 35,000 people and medical facilities, run by international aid agencies, are over-taxed.
As hundreds of people wait for their daily food rations, thousands more will go without. No matter how much food and money now makes its way to the worst-hit areas, it may well be a case of too little, too late. Reports of whisky consignments holding up port facilities caused a furore. The Ethiopian Government said the shipments wee meant to end black marketeering.
A mother holds the emaciated body of her young baby, to the camera. It was scenes like this which shocked millions of television viewers around the world into giving donations of food and money. Drought has been a fact of life for millions of Ethiopians for years. but it took TV crews to bring the full horror of it to homes in the West.
Those most in need are the very young and the very old. At relief camps, high-calorie intensive-feeding programmes save the lives of babies every day. But resources are sadly limited; despite the dire need, thee is only enough mild and high-protein biscuits for 500 children in Makale. Hundreds more arrive each day and must be turned away. As many as 50,000 people are going without food in Makale. Besides starvation, most are plagued with diseases aggravated by malnutrition.
The people who come to Makale are in desperate need of food. Shelter is another priority. During the day, temperatures can be as high as 37.8 deg. C (100 deg. F). At night, temperatures fall to below 10 deg. C (50 deg. F). Most of the famine victims must live in the open.
The death toll rises daily. Thousands have made long journeys from their homes to the relief centres in northern Ethiopia, only to die in towns like Makale and Korem.
Aid agencies like World Vision have organised costly airlifts of food. A massive operation using international aircraft and Ethiopian military planes has also begun. Distribution of relief supplies by road has proved too slow and ineffective.
Funerals are a daily occurrence in Makale. The scale of suffering has left few families untouched....all have lost loved ones. As the full horror of the crisis has become known, so has the history of the drought. Famines are slow-moving disasters; there is an extended warning period. And thus, many deaths in Ethiopia could well have been prevented.
After the 1972-74 famine, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) in Ethiopia set up an early-warning system. The current disaster has been looming for the past two years. And the RRC has said as much during that time. But in August this year, when the United Nations World Food Programme warned of ann impending catastrophe, it met with minimal response. The Ethiopian Government had by then, delivered the last of its emergency food reserved to drought victims in the north. It was only last month that substantial amounts on international food aid began to arrive at Ethiopia's main port.
As relief workers battle to save lives, political wrangling continues. Ethiopia's Marxist government has accused the West of using aid as a political weapon. Critics of the Mengistu leadership say the government's failure to resolve two civil wars has contributed to the crisis. The government has also been accused of diverting civilian aid to the military and of ignoring the immensity of the disaster.
In Korem, rumours that an aid shipment has arrived is sufficient to start a stampede. Despite the aid donations from the West, much of it has yet to arrive at the relief camps.
Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest countries. Torn by civil strife, the drought only adds to the country's multiple burdens. Ethiopia itself may be unable to find a solution; neglect and procrastination by the international community can now only do irreparable damage.