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US aid team starts work in Ethiopia's Ogaden

Issue 311
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Somaliland elders never tire and retire



ADDIS ABABA, 4 Jan 2008 - A U.S. team has started an assessment of the aid situation in Ethiopia's troubled Ogaden region, the U.S. embassy said, after conflict there fuelled fears of a humanitarian crisis.

The Ethiopian army launched a major offensive earlier this year against separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels in the remote eastern region, which borders Somalia.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa said on Friday the team, made up of experts from the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would give an impartial assessment of the situation.

Citing poor rains and restrictions on transport due to the conflict, the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said on Friday it was "increasingly concerned" about food security in the region.

Last month, Ethiopia expelled an Australian and a Briton working for the charity Save the Children UK after accusing them of diverting food aid to the ONLF.

Several aid organisations were ordered out of Ogaden in July. But the government has relaxed restrictions since then and licensed the United Nations and 19 agencies to work there.

Source: Reuters


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