Charity warns 10 million lives hang in the balance due to Ethiopia drought

Plan International Ireland says 2.2 million children are malnourished

Plan International Ireland, Ethiopia, drought, humanitarian, David Dalton

Image: Plan International Ireland

A child-rights organisation is calling for a massive mobilisation of resources over a mass draught in Ethiopia.

Plan International Ireland says millions of children are at risk of starvation.

It says 2.2 million children under the age of five are malnourished, with more than 450,000 requiring specialised interventions to stay alive.

The drought, the worst seen in the country in 30 years, has caused one-ninth of the country's population to seek emergency humanitarian assistance.

Some 60% of the 10 million people affected are either children, pregnant women or women who have recently given birth.

Ethiopia has been exceptionally hard-hit by El Nino this year, as 80% of the population rely on rain-fed agriculture to feed themselves and earn an income.

It says diseases caused by a lack of clean water - such as trachoma, scabies and diarrhoea - are on the rise.

"These diseases are disproportionately affecting children under five. We can't stand back and do nothing", Plan International Ireland CEO David Dalton says.

"We're working on the ground to support the Ethiopian government but the situation is getting worse".

"Children are suffering and require urgent assistance. We are calling on governments and donors for emergency funding during this crisis".

"Every extra day without food assistance exponentially increases human suffering, lengthens the recovery people and puts increasing pressure on the already overstretched and under-funded local systems", he adds