Monday, 16 June 2014
Quarter of Djibouti population desperate for drought aid: United Nations
June 13, 2014
Nearly a quarter of the population in Djibouti is in desperate need of aid, with malnutrition and a dramatic lack of water causing a mass exodus from rural areas, the United Nations said Thursday (June 12th).
"Persistent and recurring droughts have resulted in a general lack of water for both people and livestock," said UN Resident Co-ordinator in Djibouti Robert Watkins.
The crisis, which has dragged on since 2010, has left 190,000 of the country's 850,000 residents in need of humanitarian assistance, he said. They include 27,500 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Somalia, Watkins told reporters in Geneva.
Watkins also said 60,000 migrants -- most of them Ethiopians trying to reach the Gulf for work -- were also in need of aid inside Djibouti.
Foreigners are not the only ones on the move in the country, where most people still live off livestock which have been hard-hit by the drought.
"There has been a huge exodus of people living in rural areas," Watkins said, adding that the population in the capital city had more than doubled since 2010, now home to 85% of the population.
Nationwide, 18% of the population is considered acutely malnourished, rising to 26% in some areas -- well above the 15% emergency threshold, he said. In addition, 60% of the country's population is also suffering from diarrhoeal diseases.
Yet the crisis in Djibouti has received little international attention, with a UN appeal for aid last year reaching only a third of its target -- the lowest level of funding for any such appeal worldwide.
Watkins said he hoped the lack of interest from funders would change, pointing out that a new appeal last month for $74 million was already 13% funded, with contributions from the United States, the European Union and Japan among others.
The appeal comes amid warnings from Britain and the United States that al-Shabaab militants were planning further attacks in Djibouti.
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