Oxfam: drought threatens 6.2 million Ethiopians

Mon Oct 5, 2009 1:21pm EDT

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – As many as 6.2 million Ethiopians need emergency humanitarian assistance due to severe drought, an official from the Oxfam charity said on Monday.

The Ethiopian government puts the number in need at 5.3 million. Pastoralist communities in the country’s southern Borena area have been particularly hard hit by the lack of rain.

“Some 6.2 million Ethiopians hit by two-year recurrent drought are facing starvation and need emergency assistance,” Abera Tola, head of Oxfam America in east Africa, told Reuters.

Oxfam warned last week that severe drought is driving more than 23 million east Africans in seven countries toward severe hunger and destitution.

It said the worst affected nations were Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda, and that the situation was being exacerbated by high food prices and conflict in some areas.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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