Sir Bob Geldof for the first time in 25 years pays a 3-day visit in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region
Band Aid founder, Geldof back in Ethiopia
November 26, 2009 (MEKELLE) — Since his landmark visit 25 years ago for famine relief efforts, Irish rock star and activist, Bob Geldof for the first time pays a 3-day visit in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, one among worst-stricken region by the 1984’s devastating famine.
Yesterday, Sir Bob Geldof - Joined by Country’s UNICEF director, government officials and key humanitarian players, paid a visit in one of the then most affected village, Korom, where he was greeted by dozens of famine survivors, women, children and residents waving placards emblazoned: "No more deaths from hunger."
"It’s a miracle to come back after 25 years to this beautiful place and see you all in healthy shape" Geldof said to the crowd.
"What happened here deeply affected every human being outside of Ethiopia," he said adding "Nobody who was here 25 years ago doubted that you could rebuild your lives in the way you have now."
Geldof made a speech at a hospital site (under construction) funded by his Band Aid group, and other donors. Up on completion, the hospital is said to provide healthcare services to quarter a million people.
Few weeks ago, the Ethiopian government called for Nearly 160,000 tonnes of emergency food aid to feed 6.2 million of its 80 million people. The appeal was made on the 25th anniversary of the 1984 famine that killed an estimated one million people.
Following Ethiopia government’s appeal, a number of international Medias have related and compared the current drought situation with 1984’s disaster. But Ethiopian officials have reacted to the recent reports saying as incorrect and irresponsible reports.
In recent interview, Ethiopia’s state minister for agriculture and rural development told Sudan Tribune that the situation in Ethiopia was drought and not famine as stated in some media reports.
"There is definitely no famine in Ethiopia" Mitku Kassa, state agriculture and rural development minister said during the interview.
"What we are having is only the cause for famine, drought, and we have taken the current situation under control," the minister stressed.
However, Geldof’s visit is believed to be a witness to reveal the current humanitarian situation on ground and investigate the unfolding crises and challenges the horn of Africa’s country is facing to food-support itself and bring a long term development.
Following an Emergency aid call from Ethiopia, the international aid agency, Oxfam has called for a radical shake-up of aid system to break up the cycle of hunger in Ethiopia.
Oxfam argued that constant food flow from the West is failing to help starving Africans cope with ever-more frequent droughts and Called for a radical shake-up in the way the world tackled food crises
"No longer should we be chasing each drought with food; we should be acting before the next drought comes”. Oxfam statement said in October.
Instead, donors should support programs including weather early warning systems, improved roads, food and medicine stockpiles, cheaper than responding under the stress of urgent appeals, and irrigation schemes.
Sending such food aid "does save lives", Oxfam said. But it is a "knee-jerk reaction" and "the dominance of this approach fails to offer long-term solutions which would break these cyclical and chronic crises".
"Donors need to shift their approach, and help to give communities the tools to tackle disasters before they strike," said Penny Lawrence, Oxfam’s international director.
Geldof is widely recognized for his activism, especially in anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa
In 1984; he founded the charity super group Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
In total more than 150 million pounds were raised then, largest international appeal until the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. (ST)