Saturday 10 December 2016

Robinson: Focus on Ethiopia, not Brexit

Ed Carty

Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30

UN special envoy for El Nino and climate change Mary Robinson meeting Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros A Ghebreyesus during her visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: Liam Burke/Press22/PA Wire
UN special envoy for El Nino and climate change Mary Robinson meeting Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros A Ghebreyesus during her visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: Liam Burke/Press22/PA Wire

United Nations envoy Mary Robinson has accused the international community of being distracted and preoccupied by events like Brexit, as millions of Ethiopians suffer the worst drought in half a century.

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The former president of Ireland hit out after being briefed on the devastating impacts of both the El Niño weather pattern and of climate change, which has seen rains and harvests fail over the last year.

More than 10 million Ethiopians do not have enough food or are at risk of malnutrition, amid concerns that this could spiral into the worst food emergency in the region since the mid-1980s.

"I hope the special envoys can make this problem more visible at a time when there are preoccupations about migrants in Europe, with Brexit, and conflict situations - there are a lot of distracting issues," Ms Robinson said, adding: "I think there are a lot of problems of distraction."

Devastation

Ms Robinson continued: "I don't think this real impact of El Niño, aggravated by climate change, has received the attention that it should have from the international community."

Unicef has said three million children have dropped out of school in Ethiopia because of the drought and failed harvests.

Ms Robinson, UN envoy for climate change and El Niño, is witnessing the devastation first-hand on a three-day trip to Ethiopia with development agencies Trócaire, Concern and Goal.

The crisis is expected to be compounded later this year when the La Niña cooling pattern brings flash floods.

Irish Independent

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