Meditation Focus #76

Preventing a Famine in Ethiopia


What follows is the 76th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, November 24, 2002.


1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Focus
4. Peace Vigil for Cyprus


Once again the world is being warned that a widespread famine is looming in Ethiopia where nearly one million people starved to death in 1984. According to the UN World Food Program, the number facing hunger in Ethiopia - 14 million - is equal to that in the whole of southern Africa and the donor response so far has been woefully inadequate. It predicts "severe" food shortages in January unless donor pledges "quickly materialize". Six million Ethiopians are already in need of food aid. Since Ethiopia is landlocked, it might take between three to six months to get the food in this country. Therefore it is imperative that governments commit right now the estimated two million tonnes of food aid, costing US$700 million, required to help avoid immense human suffering in Ethiopia. Overall, nearly 30 million people could be facing famine within months in Africa as a whole, including over 14 million in southern Africa and hundreds of thousands in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this and next week Sundays, to contribute in fostering a greater awareness of this mounting humanitarian catastrophy in Ethiopia, as well as in numerous other African countries, so as to precipitate a compassionate response from the heart of all those who can afford to donate food and money and direct the necessary resources to come to the rescue of our brothers and sisters in Africa. May the long term conditions favorable to preventing a repeat of such an emergency food crisis be gradually established through local and international cooperation and goodwill, and may the whole world accepts its responsibility for safeguarding in an environmentally sustainable manner the well-being of every single human being on Earth, for the Highest Good of All.

This whole Meditation Focus is also available at


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3. More information on this Meditation Focus

This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.


Ethiopia Faces Major Food Crisis, Needs Urgent Aid (Nov 11)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) - Aid agencies warned Monday of a growing food crisis in Ethiopia that could exceed the famine that killed nearly 1 million people in 1984 if enough aid is not received in the next few months.

More than 10 million people are already affected by drought in the Horn of Africa, and agencies said that number could rise to some 14 million unless help is given soon. Neighboring Eritrea is also at risk.

Aid workers say the most vulnerable people in the drought-affected regions, such as children and the elderly, are already dying from lack of food. Many livestock have also died.

"It is shaping up to be a huge deal, and a lot of people are already making comparisons to 1984," David Snyder of Catholic Relief Services in Nairobi told Reuters. "The potential for this to get really big in 3 or 4 months is definitely there. Everything depends on how fast the world community is going to pledge food and get it to Ethiopia."

Media images of starving children and desperate adults during Ethiopia's 1984 famine went round the world, sparking a massive response from donors.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in an interview Monday that if international donors did not step forward soon, 2003 could be worse than 1984.

"If (the 1984 famine) was a nightmare, then this will be too ghastly to contemplate," the BBC Web site quoted him as saying.

The head of the United Nations World Food Program's emergency unit, Paul Turnbull, said the failure of Ethiopia's rains put millions in danger of hunger in the next few months.

A World Food Program official said last month that Ethiopia had appealed to the international community for 2 million tons of food to feed the hungry.


Ethiopia suffers from cyclical droughts, which aid agencies say have been increasing in frequency. With fewer years to recover, the country becomes more vulnerable as it faces each successive drought.

This year's crisis is blamed on the failure of the short February-May Belg rainy season, and the late start and early finish of the main Meher rains that typically last from June to September.

Food shortages in southern Africa, where more than 14 million people are at risk, have also deflected international attention from the crisis in the Horn of Africa, where both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments have appealed for urgent aid.

In Geneva, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies expanded an appeal for Ethiopia to $11 million, building on a preliminary appeal launched last month.

"Even in a normal year Ethiopian households find it difficult to subsist," the federation said in a statement. "Any external shock, such as drought, can have a disproportionate impact on the population, pushing millions toward starvation."


World Food Program News Release

12 November 2002


ADDIS ABABA - The UN World Food Programme today warned that it is increasingly concerned about the lack of food aid pledges needed to help feed millions of Ethiopians threatened by starvation early next year.

Severe food shortages are already expected in January unless donor pledges quickly materialize. WFP alone needs US$80 million worth of food for the first quarter of 2003, and a similar amount is needed in bilateral contributions to the Government and NGOs.

With a serious drought worsening in many regions of Ethiopia, the number of people needing food aid is expected to rise sharply from the current six million to between 10 to 14 million people in 2003.

“Donor contributions have covered the most acute needs over recent months, but by early next year the number of drought affected Ethiopians will rise dramatically -- the food aid pledges received so far are nowhere near enough,” said Georgia Shaver, WFP Representative in Ethiopia.

"In the worst-case scenario, up to 14 million people will require around two million tonnes of food aid, costing US$700 million. If donors respond quickly, we can still help avoid immense human suffering in Ethiopia,” she said.

(...) So far in 2002, WFP has received contributions totalling over 300,000 tonnes of food (US$130 million) to feed approximately three million people per month in Ethiopia. Beneficiaries receive basic food rations consisting of cereals while the most vulnerable groups – children under five, pregnant and nursing mothers, the sick and the elderly – receive supplementary rations of enriched blended foods.

See also:

Ethiopia: The warning signs that lead to famine (19 November, 2002)
Ethiopia faces a famine dwarfing the 1980 disaster

DEVELOPMENT-ETHIOPIA: UN Speaks Out in Defense of Food Appeal (Nov 19)
(...) the number facing hunger in Ethiopia - 14 million - is equal to that in the whole of southern Africa. (...) WFP says the donor response so far has been woefully inadequate. It predicts ''severe'' food shortages in January unless donor pledges ''quickly materialize''. Six million Ethiopians are already in need of food aid. (...) ''The business of food aid is quite difficult, logistically. Ethiopia is landlocked and we have to go through Djibouti. Which means that when a donor says, 'I will give you food,' it might take between three to six months to get the food in country,'' he points out.

Ethiopia's new nightmare Children in Dir Fakar have lost hope (11 November)
"I know I am going to die and so are my brothers and sisters because we are all so hungry," says 8-year-old Fayo Hadji. (...) Nurse Senait Alemagenu said that six out of 10 babies and children brought to her were suffering from severe malnourishment. She said that often she had no food or medicine to give them and that she had no option but to turn people away knowing they were going off to die.

Millions of Eritreans risk famine (5 November 2002)
The crops are failing, like in Southern Africa and Western Sahel. (...) An estimated 1.4 million Eritreans will be affected by the drought alone, about half of the country's population. The Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) states that another 900,000 Eritreans need food assistance, including returning refugees, those still affected by the impact of the war, and food to cover the long-awaited demobilisation programme. This brings the total appeal to 2.3 million Eritreans in need of food assistance. (...) The Eritrean Government and the UN say there has been no commitment to provide food aid for the drought from international donors. (...) UN officials estimate that at least 400,000 tonnes of food will be needed for the coming year.

Briefing: Millions still starving
Hundreds of millions of people are still underfed, although there is more than enough food to go round. Fertilisers, pesticides, high-yielding seeds and mechanisation have boosted crop yields. Meat and fish production has quadrupled. But doom-laden statistics on soil erosion, declining fish stocks, deforestation, nitrate pollution and genetic diversity are raising fears for the future. And we are still way off course on the UN’s target of halving hunger by 2015. How can we squeeze more from the degraded soil and depleted seas to feed the yet-to-be-born millions? How can we provide long-term food security for those without the resources to buy or grow their own food? The race against population growth continues.

Why famine stalks Africa (12 November, 2002)
Millions across Africa are dependent on food aid. Nearly 30 million Africans could be facing famine within months. Estimates from UN agencies, African governments and relief charities put the number at risk in the Horn of Africa at about 15 million, over 14 million in southern Africa and hundreds of thousands in the Sahel region of West Africa. The immediate cause is drought, which has ruined harvests and left people and livestock without food and water. But drought alone is not why Africa suffers regularly from famine and widespread malnutrition. (...) Malnutrition is widespread across Africa, even in famine-free years where food production or imports appear to meet a country's needs. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that every year 40%-50% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa goes hungry and that the region "is worse off nutritionally today than it was 30 years ago". Hunger and food insecurity are most serious in rural areas, where farming and livestock rearing are the main means of livelihood. It is hardly surprising then that in a continent where nearly half the people are always short of food that drought, war and mismanagement of food supplies so regularly lead to famine on a wide scale. The lack of food security and rampant poverty in Africa have left the continent with a population that is the most undernourished in the world. CLIP

Click on the map there to learn how drought, war and HIV/AIDS have put more than 38 million people on the frontline of Africa's hunger crisis.

The overcrowded ark
Humanity's choices are getting harder and fewer. The Earth's population has doubled since 1950 and consumption has risen even faster. There has to be a reckoning. For many people, it is here already. The few first-class passengers on the planet that is our Noah’s Ark are safe for now on the upper deck. It’s a very different story down below. How much longer can the rich keep their feet dry? Oil consumption has increased seven-fold in the last 50 years and meat production, marine fish catches and carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning have all at least quadrupled. And freshwater use increased six-fold last century. According to one recent study, the human race is consuming the Earth's resources at a rate that is 20% faster than it can replenish itself, with the result that we would need 1.2 Earths to sustain this lifestyle. The gap between rich and poor is becoming wider and more visible. Nearly 30% of the world's population suffers some form of malnutrition and almost two thirds of humanity lives on less than $2 a day. CLIP

Famine in Ethiopia: How should the world react? (19 November, 2002)
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has warned that his country faces a famine worse than that of 1984. The previous famine killed nearly one million people and sparked a big international relief effort. Mr Meles said the looming crisis was "like living through a recurring nightmare". He predicted that the number of people who could be hit as a result of the new drought might be three times the number affected during the earlier famine.

(...) "The experience of dying of hunger is probably one of the worst tortures for a human being. It is time for the rich and powerful countries to support and assist the people of Ethiopia before it's too late and millions will die. The issue of starvation must forcefully be a top priority in the agenda of the international community."

- Nelson Petronilho, Portugal

Link where you can donate money for food to the people

Eritrea says it will allow its ports to be used to help feed millions facing food shortages in neighboring Ethiopia (Nov 15)
The Eritrean government said Friday it will allow its ports to be used to ferry assistance to millions of people threatened by severe food shortages in neighboring Ethiopia — a country with which it fought a brutal 2 1/2 year border war.

The politics of famine and the agony of Ethiopia (12 November 2002)
(...) Since Band Aid we have learnt more about the follies - and worse - of the governments and guerrillas of the horn of Africa. The peoples of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia have been the victims of devastating natural disasters. They have also been badly served by their leaders. In Ethiopia, the cruel communist dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam followed the despotic regime of Haile Selassie. Mr Zenawi, Mengistu's successor, is not as brutal, but he has made mistakes. The vanity of both Ethiopia and Eritrea over Eritrean self-rule and their border dispute is difficult to comprehend. It has displaced many thousands of people, created huge armies that must now be disbanded and left cultivable land laced with landmines. War has destroyed viable economies. That still leaves a lack of proper long-term development aid. The rich world gives when its conscience is stung by skeletal figures, but its record on aid of the kind that would draw people from the precipice is paltry. When the early-warning systems indicate worrying shifts in food availability, all too often it doesn't come quickly enough or in the quantities promised. Only if that happens, and only if Ethiopia makes permanent peace with her neighbours will that nation be strong enough to withstand natural catastrophe.

Food Shortages Worsen in Zimbabwe (Nov 23)
Food shortages in Zimbabwe have markedly worsened, causing massive profiteering, political interference in distribution and forcing the hungry to survive on wild fruits and roots, relief agencies said Saturday. An estimated 6.7 million Zimbabweans, more than half the population, are in danger of starvation in the coming months because of food shortages blamed on drought and the government's chaotic program to seize thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black settlers.

Topics of the latest press releases:
Drought and lack of food aid threaten millions of Ethiopians
WFP welcomes India into donor family
WFP extends food assistance in Georgia
Cote d'Ivoire: help for victims of civil unrest
Mounting hunger in N. Uganda
Continuing aid for displaced Chechens
Millions face starvation in Horn of Africa
World Food Day
Disaster looms in Ethiopia
Drought devastating Eritrea's harvest
More Angolans in need
Food Aid Cuts in North Korea
Eritrean refugees in Sudan
Food & seeds distribution in Burundi
WFP convoy in N. Uganda attacked

4. Peace Vigil for Cyprus

Here are some of the latest developments in Cyprus. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well and that the historic opportunity presented by the new UN Plan for a unified Cyprus eventually lead to a peaceful resolution of this very long conflict.


UN Releases Plan for Unified Cyprus (Nov 11)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations envisions a unified Cyprus with a "common state" government encompassing two "component states," along the lines of Switzerland and its cantons, according to a U.N. plan unveiled on Monday.

The plan was issued to the parties on Monday in hopes of spurring an agreement before a Dec. 12 European Union summit at which Cyprus is expected to be invited into the bloc. It would also create a six-member Presidential Council with a rotating presidency as the common state government's executive power.

The council's presidency and vice presidency would rotate every 10 months between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, and its membership would be proportional to the two component states' population, although at least two of its members would have to come from each state, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Reuters.

A Supreme Court would be composed of nine judges, with three from each component state joined by three non-Cypriots, according to the plan.

The plan leaves blank, for now, the formula for any territorial adjustment between the Turkish and Greek sides.


See also:

UN Recommends Swiss Model for Unified Cyprus (Nov 11)
(...) Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis hailed the plan as a new beginning for Cyprus. "This is a very important day for Cyprus and Cypriots. For the first time in many years we have an official overall proposal for a settlement on Cyprus," Simitis told reporters. The overall goal of the plan by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was to create a relationship of "political equality" between the two sides of the divided island while respecting "the balance between Greece and Turkey" in a peaceful Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus, with a population of about 750,000 and a land area smaller than the U.S. state of Connecticut, has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the military then ruling Greece. Turkish Cypriots, who make up about 20 percent of the population, control about one-third of the Mediterranean island. Turkey has threatened to annex its part of the island if the EU admits a divided Cyprus, while Greece has threatened to veto EU expansion if Cyprus is not included. CLIP

Cyprus Peace Plan Gets Major Boost from Turkey
A United Nations peace plan for Cyprus was given a major boost Tuesday when the winner of Turkey's elections gave support to reunify the island before decisions next month on its EU entry.

U.N. Cyprus Reunify Plan Denounced (Nov 12)
(...) Turkish Cypriots ultimately seek a confederation of two sovereign, independent states. Greek Cypriots have insisted on a single, island-wide government and oppose any formula they feel could lead to its partition. The Mediterranean island has been split into a Greek Cypriot south and Turkish-occupied north since Turkey invaded in 1974 following an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state; it keeps 40,000 troops there. CLIP

New mood of goodwill on a troubled island (Nov 19)
(...) For the first time in decades it is now possible to discern the outlines of a new constitution for the bitterly divided island, which could pave the way for a reunified state entering the European Union in 2004. Such a constitution would be based on a United Nations proposal for a loose Swiss-style confederation of cantons, or "component states", with a relatively weak central authority. It implies that some 85,000 Greek Cypriots will be allowed to return to their homes and property in the Turkish-occupied north and the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", recognised by none but Turkey, will be abolished. In return, the Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, will support Turkey's request for a firm date for EU accession talks. CLIP

Greece Signs Up for Talks on Cyprus Peace Plan (Nov 19)

Country profile: Cyprus
Traditionally the birthplace of the ancient goddess of love Aphrodite, Cyprus's modern history has, in contrast, been dominated by enmity between its Greek and Turkish inhabitants. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government. The Turkish invasion effectively partitioned the island with the northern third inhabited by Turkish-Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots. A "Green Line" - dividing the two parts from Morphou through Nicosia to Famagusta - is patrolled by United Nations troops. In 1983 the Turkish-held area declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It is recognized only by Turkey. The Greek Cypriot leader, Glafcos Clerides, and the Turkish community leader, Rauf Denktash, have held indirect negotiations to prepare the ground for a comprehensive settlement. But the Turkish Cypriots' continued demand for recognition as a separate state remains a major sticking point.

Greece Says U.N. Cyprus Plan Is Last Chance (Nov 13)
A U.N. blueprint to settle the Cyprus conflict within weeks could be the last chance by the world body to achieve peace on the island, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis warned Wednesday.

Greece Urges Turkey to Back Cyprus Peace, Reforms (Nov 15)
Greece urged Turkey on Friday to back the search for a Cyprus peace deal and commit to democratic reforms in order to win a long-sought invitation to begin talks on joining the European Union.

Greece, Cyprus promise to seek quick settlement for divided island (Nov 16)

Turkey Rocks Cyprus Peace Process with EU Demand (Nov 16)
The U.N.'s new Cyprus peace plan was thrown into confusion Saturday when Turkey's leader said a reunited island of Greek and Turkish Cypriots should not join the European Union until Turkey was admitted.

Potholes Appear in UN Road to Cyprus Peace (Nov 17)
The poor health of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and a surprise Turkish suggestion for a delay to Cyprus's EU accession posed new obstacles on Sunday for U.N. efforts to reunite the island.

Annan 'Very Concerned' by Delay in UN Cyprus Plan (Nov 19)
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is worried by a delay in the start of talks on his plan to unify Cyprus due to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's illness, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Q&A: Cyprus conflict explained

Cyprus Timeline: A chronology of key events

Full Coverage on Turkey

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