Alison Cozby 4492

March 8,2002



Paul Lewis, "Aid Groups Plead to Avert Famine," The New York Times, March 1, 1990.


Summary:  On the brink of a disastrous famine, with hundreds of thousands of lives at risk, Ethiopia and Sudan continue in civil war destruction while relief workers attempt to reach civilians and ask leaders for help doing so.


International pressure on Sudan and Ethiopia mounts in hopes to prevent a famine in the Horn of Africa, and representatives from the U.S. were sent to Addis Ababa and Khartoum to plead with governments to help with the oncoming starvation of their peoples.  Western governments fear that a disaster similar to that of the 1984-85 famine is at hand, and suggest a joint Soviet-American relief effort.


Safe Transit for Supplies- US Congressman Tony Hall proposes a "food truce", that would allow supplies to ravel throughout battle lines in order to reach the 4 to 5 million peasants with their food shortage.  Gorbachev responded to this suggestion with a reaffirmed commitment to deal with the Ethiopia problem politically, not militarily, saying he would support any humanitarian initiatives that "do not infringe the legitimate rights of the Ethiopian Government," meaning that he would not make a move not approved by Ethiopia's president Mengistu Haile Mariam.


Trapped Behind Lines- A major rebel offensive against the Government forces cuts Ethiopians off from relief aid just as they exhaust the crop of last year's meager harvest.  A plan to ship food through the Red Sea port of Massawa and then tuck it to the central provinces was abandoned after the Eritrean People's Liberation Front seized and closed the port, sinking five relief vessels.  Some groups continue to truck in supplies, but only manage to send a fraction of what is needed.  The United Nations asks that both the rebels and President Mengistu open corridors through their respective lines for supplies, but neither wants to have such a distraction from the battle that could decide control of Eritrea and Tiger.


Corridors of Tranquility-  Flying food in is yet another option, but would also require cooperation from the Ethiopian government for a safe air strip.  The Sudanese government once agreed to "corridors of tranquility" that allowed goods to flow from the north to the rebel held south.  The discontinuation of this policy makes it clear that the Government wishes to stop food from reaching the rebels and their sympathizers in the south, while allowing food into the north or into areas that it is holding.