Caritas Australia CEO in Ethiopia as fallout from the Ukraine conflict pushes the region to the brink of starvation

Over 14 million people across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are on the verge of starvation and this number is rising rapidly. In Ethiopia, where the situation is dire with millions starving, Caritas Australia CEO Kirsty Robertson is meeting this week with Caritas Ethiopia and other in-country partners to assess the response needed to this crisis.

 Caritas Australia has already provided over $1.5 million in funding through partners in the region, to provide food distributions, support for children impacted by malnutrition, clean drinking water, cash transfers to households at risk of poverty, hygiene supplies as well as seeds and household items for families that have been displaced by conflict.

“The food crisis is acute, and it is here now. We need an immediate response for urgent famine prevention relief in the critical hunger spots like here in Ethiopia. While we are providing some essential support, much more is needed. We are calling on the Australian Government to commit an additional $150 million to address critical hunger response,” said Kirsty Robertson, Caritas Australia’s CEO.

 “We must also ensure that vulnerable communities are supported for the long-term. We know it takes years to rebuild from this kind of disaster - a long-term strategy and aid program is required.”

The war in Ukraine has pushed regions that were already experiencing hunger over the edge. Food prices were already on the rise, and now they are skyrocketing. The Horn of Africa is heavily reliant on imported grains and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia, which are no longer available. As the conflict continues, the effects this will have on vulnerable countries will only intensify.

“I am seeing first-hand the effects of this crisis. Parents who cannot feed their children, families without access to clean water, the elderly and sick who are literally wasting away. The situation is dire here in Ethiopia and across this whole region. We must act now because without immediate intervention things are going to get much worse,” said Ms Robertson.

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Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia, is available for interview from Ethiopia. Photography and footage is also available.

 Media contacts:        Nicole Chehine 0412 179 063 /

Tom Svich 0407 916 787 /