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After Horn peace deal, shift sights to relief: UNICEF chief

UNICEF chief Carol Bellamy has welcomed the weekend peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and urged the two countries' leaders to refocus their attention on relief efforts.

"With a ceasefire agreed and peace at hand the two governments should focus on the humanitarian crisis," Bellamy told AFP.

She was speaking late on Sunday in the small of town of Rabdure in southern Somalia's Bakol region.

The peace accord, signed Sunday in Algiers, officially halted the two-year war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than a million.

Bellamy said 250,000 Eritreans are affected by drought and about a million people have been displaced by the war.

"The larger Ethiopia is however experiencing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the region currently," said Bellamy, who has visited Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia during her tour of the Horn of Africa.

She was visiting drought-hit areas in Kenya on Monday before leaving the region Tuesday.

At a food distribution centre in Rabdure, Bellamy saw severely malnourished children and mothers who had travelled for days to reach the centre to receive food and water rations.

"I walked seven days and two nights from Ethiopia's Dollow district to save my eight-month-old twin boys," said Habiba Aliyow Mohamed, a 36-year-old mother, who was carrying the twins, told AFP.

"Please tell these people to give me more food," she pleaded with journalists. She said she had left three other children with their grandmother.

"The land is green here, but the prolonged drought and violence is affecting the mothers and children in Rabdure and other parts of Somalia," she added.

Bellamy said that while her visit may not automatically open the floodgates of aid, it had allowed her to collect first-hand information and she was now in a position "to speak about the humanitarian crises in the region with confidence".

She also visited UNICEF-funded water, education and immunisation projects in the town of Baidoa.

Bellamy's trip follows a UN appeal last week for almost 378 million dollars (394 million euros) in aid to the region.

The head of the UN's World Food Programme, Catherine Bertini, said 297.5 million dollars was needed to feed 10 million people in Ethiopia, 2.20 million in Kenya, 750,000 in

 

 


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