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Ethiopia: Lack of road access causes serious concern

11-12-1997 News Release 97/49

Intense efforts have been made by the authorities, the Italian government, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and the ICRC to supply food, shelter and medicines by helicopter to thousands of displaced people in south-eastern Ethiopia.  However, in the wake of the recent flooding, the sheer impossibility of bringing assistance by road from the town of Gode to the villages along the Wabe Shebele river and in the Afder area continues to hamper the relief operation.

For the two weeks that they were available (up to 6 December), two Puma helicopters sent by Djibouti-based French forces made daily flights to distribute vital food, medicines and emergency equipment to six major settlements and hundreds of displaced persons from small villages.

This week, however, the coordinating task force in Gode has only a single helicopter for carrying out its work, though there is enough food, equipment and medicine to cover the immediate needs of between 50,000 and 100,000 people, as well as sufficient stocks of veterinary medicines for treating 400,000 head of livestock. Nevertheless, without usable roads, many of the isolated communities and groups of displaced people in the vast areas along the border with Somalia will remain without help.