Jared Bernethy


“Ethiopia:  Too Little---And Too Late,” Newsweek, November 12, 1984.



The Main Point


            The main argument in this article is that an estimated 200,000 Ethiopians died in the country’s last famine a decade earlier.  With the help of other countries and this prior knowledge of famine, one would think that this shouldn’t have ever happened again.  Now a decade later and Ethiopia is suffering from the worst famine ever.




            Signs of disaster in Ethiopia had been building for at least two years, but went largely unread and unknown to outsiders.  Now images of starving Ethiopian children and their mothers flash across TV screens everywhere.  Because of this TV coverage, around the world relief agencies were swamped with people offering help.  “It is ironic,” says Peter Gil, a reporter for Britain’s Thames Television network, “that they could ignore the warnings until we managed to get a few minutes of film on the air.”  Some relief officials have said that Western governments had deliberately dragged their feet in helping with the famine relief, because of their opposition to Ethiopia’s Marxist regime.  Even Ethiopia’s major ally, the Soviet Union, hadn’t contributed to the relief efforts.


Hard Feelings


            Now that the famine in Ethiopia is widespread news all over the world, many nations are taking interest in the situation.  Only a few of these many nations had taken interest to the disaster only a few weeks earlier.  In fact, they were being criticized daily for their lack of help when it was needed the most.  Britain had been constantly asking for reductions in the food supplies being sent to Ethiopia.  Also, the United States had threatened to block increased aid to Africa.  Still, the United States was the largest single donor to Ethiopia, but getting food to the people in most need was no easy task.  Many of these individuals live in mountain villages and were not reachable even with four-wheel-drive vehicles.  Although most of the relief efforts had been directed toward Ethiopia, at least 25 other African nations had been affected by the lack of rain.  People in all of these countries were starving or suffering from drought-related diseases.  Even with the efforts of these nations, it seems as though the relief effort came far too late.