Ethiopia's government is warning it will run out of emergency food aid starting next month as the number of drought victims in the East African country has reached 7.8 million.
An international delegation visited one of the worst-affected areas Friday near the border with Somalia, which suffers from widespread drought as well. Several hundred people lined the dusty road to meet the officials at the remote airstrip, while rail-thin camels and goats roamed in the bushes. Animal carcasses littered the ground.
"I came to this area after losing nearly all my goats and camels due to lack of rain," 75-year-old Ader Ali Yusuf said quietly, wiping her cheek with her headscarf as she sat with other women observing the delegation from afar. The mother of 12 is just one of thousands of Ethiopians who have walked up to three days on foot to displacement camps for aid.
Ethiopia's disaster relief chief Mitiku Kassa told The Associated Press that the country needs more than $1 billion for emergency food assistance. Seasonal rains have been critically small and local cattle are dying. The number of drought victims has risen by two million people in the past four months.
The risk of an acute food and nutritional disaster is "very high," the disaster relief chief said.