United Nations Suspends Work in Drought-Hit Ethiopia Region

United Nations operations in Ethiopia’s drought-stricken Somali region were suspended after a World Food Programme worker was killed in an ambush on May 13, a WFP spokeswoman said.

One person was injured in the attack on the road from the regional capital, Jijiga, to Fik and two others are still missing, Judith Schuler said in an interview from the capital, Addis Ababa, today.

“All UN operations in Somali region are currently on hold,” she said. “It’s a UN decision. We need to make sure the situation is safe to continue.”

Ethiopia’s government last month issued an appeal backed by aid agencies for $75 million to provide emergency help to 2 million people in the south and southeast of the Horn of Africa nation. All parts of the region have been experiencing a drought.

The situation is “gradually improving” after rainfall over the past two weeks, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an e-mailed statement on May 16. More rain is forecast in the next few weeks, it said.

The government blamed the attack on “remnants” of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a rebel movement that has been fighting for self-determination of the Ogaden area of the region since 1984. The group said in a May 16 statement that the attack was carried out by the government.

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at wdavison3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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