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'Change needed' in international approach to Ethiopia

19th November 2009

The international community needs to make a fundamental change in its approach to Ethiopia if the country is to avoid another 25 years of famine.

That was the message from the UK's international development minister Gareth Thomas as he announced details of a GBP 172.5 million humanitarian relief package for the African nation, after a third year of drought left 14 million people at risk of malnutrition.

The relief will provide immediate support to people most in need, as well as funding longer-term measures to help Ethiopia cope more effectively with future emergencies.

Visiting the country, Mr Thomas pointed out that the situation today is different from 1984 when more than one million people died, but said too many families are still finding food scarce.

He added: 'That's why we're investing over GBP 170 million to help people now and for the future but the Ethiopian government and international community must bring forward real and substantial reform too.'

The minister said the Ethiopian government should speed up land and agriculture reforms to support its growing population and allow aid workers to reach the most desperate people, such as those in the Somali region.

In addition, he urged the UN to tailor its programmes to stop the country being dependent on food aid.

Last month, Mr Thomas announced that the UK would invest GBP 40 million in the UN's Delivering as One programme, which will streamline the support provided to developing countries.

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