IRC says twelve-fold COVID-19 increase, severe weather, locusts creating massive need in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA: Twelve-fold COVID-19 increase, severe weather and desert locusts creating massive need in Ethiopia, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned on Wednesday.

The IRC, in a press statement, issued on Wednesday stressed that the COVID-19, flooding and the desert locust outbreak are creating a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia with many people unable to meet their daily food needs.

“A massive twelve fold increase in Covid-19 cases between June and September is further compounding needs as families have been unable to obtain income or access food due to movement restrictions. Ethiopia currently holds the highest Covid-19 caseload in East Africa,” the statement read.

Ethiopia has reported a total number of 80,895 confirmed COVID-19 cases as number of COVID-19 related deaths in the east African country reached 1,255, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health reported on late Wednesday.

The IRC also stressed that recent heavy rainfall has led to flooding, resulting in destruction of crops, loss of livestock and displacement.

Swarms of multiplying desert locusts have also been destroying pastures and crops, leading to further food insecurity, it warned.

“Some areas are recording admissions for severe acute malnutrition at 50 percent higher than for the same period last year,” the IRC said.

IRC Ethiopia Country Director, Frank McManus, also said the multiple issues of flooding, locusts, inter-communal violence and COVID-19 “are highly concerning given the already massive humanitarian needs in the country.”

The slowdown of the economy and lockdown restrictions mean that people have not been able to access income and there is an upward pressure on food prices, the Country Director said.

According to McManus, over 19 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia. At four times the number of people displaced in 2019, as a result of the flooding, more than 300,000 people have been displaced in 2020 and have had their homes and livelihoods lost or damaged.

McManus said also said that a total of over 1 million people have been adversely affected by the floods overall. With the spread of COVID-19, people that have been displaced are amongst the most vulnerable due to the often congested living space, compromised health conditions, and inadequate access to basic services.

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