Catholic Relief Applauds Bush's Efforts to Address Key African Issues

But Cautions That Is Work Needed to Tackle Chronic Needs

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BALTIMORE, Maryland, JULY 11, 2003 ( Catholic Relief Services applauded President George W. Bush for his efforts addressing key African issues during this week’s trip to the continent, yet noted many urgent and grave needs remain.

One grave need is in Ethiopia, where more than 12 million people face the threat of starvation. CRS has taken out a paid television advertisement calling for increased assistance to help Ethiopians meet immediate needs and develop long-term solutions to break free of poverty and famine.

The CRS ad, which will air during this Sunday’s news roundtable shows on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in the Washington, D.C., area, states: «In recent weeks, we’ve seen our government help African nations work toward self-sufficiency. But many are too weak to make much progress. As you watch this, starvation is threatening the lives of more than 12 million Ethiopians. Providing food now will prevent the famine. Providing the tools to create self-sufficiency will keep it from coming back. Leadership in Washington and Africa can save lives now — and help millions to help themselves.»*

In a separate statement, CRS’ country representative for Ethiopia, Anne Bousquet, noted: «The United States has played a significant role in, thus far, helping to prevent a catastrophic famine in Ethiopia. However, millions of people in Ethiopia are surviving solely on the food provided by the government of Ethiopia, international aid agencies and the international donor community, while critical rains remain sporadic, and medium- to long-term aid is still desperately needed.»

The U.S. government has pledged about $475 million in emergency aid this year, more than half of the entire food needs for Ethiopia. However, less than $5 million has been provided for agricultural development in the country.

Bousquet stated that the agency is pleased with the Bush administration’s commitment to development assistance through the Millennium Challenge Account. «But the MCA,» she noted, «is geared toward higher-performing nations. There needs to be an improved plan that ensures needy countries like Ethiopia, which with more development assistance could lift themselves out of poverty, are not left behind.»

Chronic poverty, lack of infrastructure and a series of droughts have created conditions similar to the 1984 famine in which nearly 1 million Ethiopians died. Nutritional surveys conducted in the affected regions identify growing acute malnutrition, requiring increased resources for therapeutic and targeted supplementary feeding.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community.

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