Twice a year the monks and priests of the Church of Narga Selassie on Dek Island in northern Ethiopia gather to bless an urn of water scooped from the lake that surrounds them.
As Ethiopia remains caught in a deadly cycle of drought and famine, aid agencies warn that erratic rainfall and ever-rising food costs are compounding the problems carried over from last year’s drought to leave 6.2 million people in need of food assistance, on top of the 7.5 million already getting aid from the government. Close to 14 million Ethiopians 20% of the country’s total population now have difficulty finding enough to eat, including, according to UNICEF, 62,000 children under five in the worst-affected areas who received treatment for severe acute malnutrition during the first half of 2009. And that number is set to rise
If there was any doubt as to the character of the state that threatens to emerge in Somalia should Islamist rebels overthrow the embattled government, it was dispelled on June 22, when a militia court sentenced four men accused of stealing three mobile phones and two AK-47s to the amputation of their right hands and left legs. The sentence, whose execution was postponed after the al-Shabaab court decided the hot weather might cause the four men to bleed to death, was condemned as “cruel, inhuman and degrading” by Amnesty International
Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga forgot his Olympic disapointment when he won Monday’s 113th Boston Marathon ahead of Kenyan Daniel Rono and Ryan Hall of America. Merga,, who faded in the heat of Beijing to finish fourth in the 2008 Summer Games, went clear before ‘Heartbreak Hill’ and finished almost a minute clear in two hours eight minutes 42 seconds. Rono clocked 2:09.32 with Hall another eight seconds adrift and the only non-African competitor in a top 10 that included five Kenyans headed by Rono and with Robert Cheruiyot finishing fifth.