Mary Robinson demands international action on El Nino events

The 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.

The former president of Ireland has been briefed on the devastating impacts of the El Nino weather pattern and climate change. Rains and harvests have failed over the last year.

About 10m Ethiopians do not have enough food or are at risk of malnutrition, amid concerns it could spiral into the worst food emergency in the region since the mid-1980s.

“I hope that 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,” said Ms Robinson.

“I don’t think that this real impact of El Nino, aggravated by climate change, has received the attention that it should have from the international community.”

Unicef said 3m children have dropped out of school in Ethiopia, because of the drought and failed harvests.

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

The crisis is expected to be compounded, later this year, when the La Nina cooling weather pattern brings flash floods to the region.

She is urging governments to use the crisis to create a blueprint to combat subsequent El Nino events and the impact of climate change.

The UN estimates that €3.4bn is needed to combat the impacts of the current El Nino crisis, which is being compounded by climate change across Africa, Asia, and in South and Central America. Only €1.2bn has been pledged.

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