A close up image of a child in Ethiopia who has just washed their face

Ethiopia emergency appeal launched to help children on the brink of starvation

Mary’s Meals is asking for urgent support in response to the spiralling hunger crisis in the Tigray region

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Mary’s Meals has launched an emergency appeal to deliver urgent food aid to children in Ethiopia who are on the brink of starvation. 

The current situation in Ethiopia is dire. A combination of drought, displacement, and brutal conflict has left huge areas of the country in crisis. Having lived through the atrocities of the Tigray War, millions of Ethiopians are facing emergency levels of food insecurity and hunger. 

The most recent assessment of food security needs from the Government of Ethiopia projected that 15.8 million people in the East African country will face hunger and need food assistance in 2024. This includes more than four million internally displaced people and 7.2 million experiencing high levels of food insecurity and needing emergency help (1). 

A displaced person in Ethiopia receiving a food ration

We have been working in Ethiopia since 2017 and feed 24,320 children every school day. With our local partner, we provide daily school meals to marginalised and disadvantaged children in the impoverished Tigray region in the north-east of the country, close to the Eritrean border. 

The Tigray region is one of the worst affected by the hunger crisis. According to the BBC, 200,000 children in Tigray have left school in the last three months alone (2), with many of them working, begging or scavenging for food to survive. 

During the civil war, Mary's Meals provided community feeding programmes to 30,000 people while schools were closed and families were displaced. 

Following the ceasefire agreement in November 2022 and the re-opening of schools, we have now fully reinstated our school feeding programme across Tigray. This is bringing hungry children back into education and providing a lifeline to them and their families living in extreme poverty in these challenging days.  

But with an estimated 7.6 million children in Ethiopia out of school because of the conflict and climate shocks (3), it is critical that the programme is extended to attract more children into the classroom where they will be given energy to learn and the hope of a brighter future. 

Children in a classroom in Ethiopia eating Mary's Meals

Now, there is an urgent dual priority – ensuring that children in Tigray have food and boosting their chances of engaging with education again. 

Matt Barlow, Executive Director of Mary’s Meals, says: “The stories we are hearing from our partner in Ethiopia are simply devastating. 

“The two-year civil war has caused widespread destruction and left physical and mental scars on people all over Tigray, including children – many of whom have missed years of schooling and who are now starving. The war has undone years of progress in Tigray’s education system and we know the impact of children missing years of learning is huge. 

“With your support, we can bring these hungry children back to the classroom and give them a nutritious meal which will allow them to focus on their lessons and give them an education. Ultimately this will help to lift them, their families and communities out of the extreme poverty they are living in”. 

As funds allow, our partner is ready and waiting to extend its feeding programme to more schools, in areas of great need across the region. They will work together to reach as many more children as possible with daily meals in school over the coming weeks and months. 

A child in Ethiopia sits on the dusty ground. Flies land on their face.

Matt continues: “The situation is urgent. But there is something you can do. You can help to bring these desperate children back from the brink of starvation. 

“Throughout the UK, I have witnessed people respond with incredible acts of kindness in moments of crisis and when all hope may seem lost. Now, we need your support. 

“Please donate what you can today – even the smallest donation can help to save a life.” 

To find out more about the Mary’s Meals Crisis in Ethiopia appeal, please visit www.marysmeals.org.uk/campaigns/crisis-in-ethiopia