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“We must act now to save lives and avert a major humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia” – Darren Welch (Amb.)

The United Kingdom, together with The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is hosting a high-level pledging event in Geneva next week on April 16, 2024. The aim of this event is to raise resources to prevent a humanitarian crisis across northern Ethiopia.

We must join forces now so that millions of Ethiopians get the humanitarian support they desperately need, and need to remove the barriers that get in the way of the lifesaving work of our colleagues in the Non-Governmental Organisations and humanitarian agencies.

In February, I joined the United Kingdom’s Minister for Africa Andrew Mitchell, on his visit to Northern Ethiopia. I was deeply struck by what we saw there. We saw how conflict; barriers to getting help; public services under enormous pressure; the El Niño induced drought; and a deteriorating economy are pushing Ethiopia into a humanitarian crisis.

While I was pleased that we were able to launch a GBP 100 million package of support to help reduce the preventable deaths of mothers and children, it is painfully clear to me that more must be done, and it must be done now.

The needs are immense; more than 21 million people need humanitarian assistance including 4.5 million internally displaced people. To meet the UN’s prioritized humanitarian plan and the critical funding gap, a total funding of USD one billion is urgently required to sustain the response over the next three months and secure aid pipelines beyond. This plan prioritises the most vulnerable communities, ensuring aid reaches those in greatest need.

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The United Kingdom is encouraging countries that are friends of Ethiopia to come together to make pledges towards this target. This is not just about numbers or budgets; we are at a critical moment to make a lasting impact on the lives of over 10 million Ethiopians.

The UK and Ethiopia enjoy strong ties and a longstanding historic partnership. Our diplomatic presence here goes back to the 1840s. Today, Ethiopia is home to the UK’s largest bilateral development programme. Our strong bilateral partnership spans important sectors; we are working to strengthen education and health sectors; we are also supporting strong business environment reforms rooted in the mutual interests of our two countries. British investors are creating jobs and paying taxes. And the United Kingdom is a strong advocate for getting support to Ethiopia from international financial institutions where we have large share holdings and investments.

But the United Kingdom knows that we act with most impact when we work together with our valued partners and in support of the government’s own needs. So, I call on partners to join us so that together we can change the lives of millions starting today.

(Darren Welch (Amb.) is the UK Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union.)

By Darren Welch (Amb.)

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