Ethiopia: Conflict and drought in the Afar region
17-10-2002 Operational Update
Pastoralists living in the Afar region, in north-eastern Ethiopia, have been badly hit by recent serious drought conditions. Extensive loss of cattle due to poor rains and the resulting decrease in grazing and water resources have seriously compounded their capacity to cope with an environment known to be one of the harshest in the world. Drought has also exacerbated ethnic tensions and conflict in the region between the Issa and Afar communities over limited resources and further decreased grazing. As a result, these nomadic households find themselves facing destitution as they are forced to sell their remaining livestock assets to meet their essential needs.
In response to this worsening scenario, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) have decided to launch an urgent preventive action for pastoralists in the region suffering from the combined effects of drought and conflict that aims at preserving their health and nutritional status, by firstly stabilising their nutritional situation and preventing them from falling into absolute destitution. General food distributions for some 100,000 people over a four-month period will cover Afar (Zone 3) and neighbouring Shinile Zone in the Somali Region (Afdem and Mieso woredas), where on-going clashes and conflict between the Issa and the Afar have concentrated. Distributions have commenced this week in both zones.