Mary Robinson is today [Monday, July 4th] travelling into the midst of a food crisis in Ethiopia to witness the impact and response to the devastating El Niño weather phenomenon, which has been aggravated by climate change.
Following her appointment as UN Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate in May, Mary Robinson departs for a three day visit to Ethiopia with Ireland’s leading international aid organisations Concern Worldwide, GOAL and Trócaire.
Mrs Robinson will meet Ethiopian people suffering from food shortages due the country’s worst drought in 50 years – resulting in 10.2 million people urgently needing food aid.
Their harvests and livestock were destroyed by consecutive droughts and flash floods in a country where 85 per cent of people live in rural areas and where most rely on subsistence farming for survival.
During her visit, Mary Robinson will see some of the life-saving programmes sponsored by Irish aid agencies accompanied by their chief executives Dominic MacSorley (Concern Worldwide ), Eamonn Meehan (Trócaire) and Barry Andrews (GOAL).
She will also meet representatives of the Ethiopian government and international partners, who are working to alleviate the suffering of the people affected and who are planning to prevent future climate change impacts.
Mary Robinson said: “I am saddened that Ethiopia should have to cope with this El Niño situation.
“Despite the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia, and humanitarian partners, the impacts of climate change have weakened people’s ability to cope with El Niño which is unfair considering Ethiopia’s negligible contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.
“In addition to supporting relief efforts for this immediate crisis, the international community must take a much longer term view.
“Climate change impacts will continue to undermine development gains and increase the vulnerability of people to natural disasters, therefore the international community has a duty to reduce emissions, support resilience and adaptation efforts in the hardest hit communities.”