7 April 2000 - Eight high-ranking UN officials are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Friday to discuss the current crisis caused by drought and food shortages in the region.

UN country directors, serving in Somalia and Ethiopia, from the UN Children�s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program (WFP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Resident Coordinator�s offices are expected for the one-day regional meeting.

The round-table will be co-chaired by Sam Nyambi, UN Resident Coordinator for Ethiopia � the country worst-hit by the crisis. Issues on the agenda include sharing information about nutritional needs and population movements, the operational/logistical problems of moving food aid through the region, security concerns, and strategies for coping with persistent drought and food insecurity.

�We are trying to determine how best � in both the short term and long term � to deal with the humanitarian crisis and food security issues here in the region,� said Randolph Kent, the UN Resident Coordinator for Somalia and co-chair of the meeting. �This meeting gives us a chance to come up with practical solutions on both sides of the border,� he added.

The group is meeting ahead of a scheduled visit to the Horn of Africa by the UN Secretary-General�s Special Envoy Catherine Bertini, who arrives next Tuesday evening in Addis Ababa for an 8-day tour of the region.

The UN estimates as many as 12 million people in the Horn of Africa (mostly in Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern Kenya) are suffering food shortages, after three years of persistent drought and poor harvests. Already malnutrition levels have risen and people are on the move in search of food, water and work in order to survive.