Millions are at risk of famine as Ethiopia crisis escalates

Queue for food in Ethiopia

As many as 9.4 million people in Ethiopia are in need of urgent food assistance as the conflict in the East African country continues to escalate.  

Since November 2020, violent clashes in the northern region have led to tens of thousands of casualties and created a humanitarian emergency for millions of vulnerable people throughout the country. There is currently no end in sight to the fighting and the hunger crisis is predicted to get worse in coming months. 

More than 2.1 million people are already displaced because of the fighting, with many of them women, children and the elderly.  

The country is also facing its worst locust plague in 25 years, which is destroying crops and threatening food supplies.  

Ethiopia is currently facing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. The ongoing conflict has destroyed numerous health facilities and left many without access to vital COVID-19, polio and measles vaccinations. Currently, only 1.3% of the population has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Ethiopia Crisis at a glance 

At least 5.2 million people urgently need food support. 

3.1 million children are at risk of malnutrition 

Over 3.5 million people no longer have access to safe drinking water 

Emergency food assistance of wheat, legumes and cooking oil to food-insecure families in Ethiopia.
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Emergency food assistance of wheat, legumes and cooking oil to food-insecure families in Ethiopia. Photo: CRS

“The hunger emergency in Ethiopia is the most severe in the world right now and can best be described as mass starvation," says Catherine Harris, Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Coordinator.  

"It's also been extremely challenging to get humanitarian aid to the people who need it, because there are limited supplies, fuel and cash in the country. This means that even when humanitarian workers can find enough wheat flour or shelter supplies in the quantities needed in the region, they might not be able to source the fuel necessary to transport these supplies the distances needed. It means that everything takes longer, is more complicated to organise, and costs more than normal."  

"What really worries me is that this is only going to get worse. The UN estimates that 22 million people will need humanitarian aid next year - over double the numbers right now. Without immediate humanitarian intervention, we are looking at the kind of mass starvation and untold deaths that Ethiopia has not seen for decades.” 

Catherine Harris

Caritas Australia’s Humanitarian Coordinator

Food distribution Ethiopia.
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Food distribution in Ethiopia. Photo: CRS

How you can help support Ethiopia  

Our partner Caritas Ethiopia is currently working with vulnerable communities and families who have been displaced and impacted by the conflict.  

With millions facing famine and malnutrition, your urgent support today can help provide essentials such as: 

Emergency food distributions to communities facing hunger and famine  

Water, sanitation and hygiene support including latrines, water systems and dignity kits with soap, dental supplies and underwear  

Supplies to build basic shelters and basic household supplies including buckets, cooking pots, blankets, mattresses, pillows, plates, cups and jerrycans 

Please donate to the Africa Regional Appeal today and help provide urgent support to communities affected by the Ethiopia Hunger Crisis.  

Your lifesaving assistance is urgently needed for the people of Ethiopia. 

 donate today