Only about 60 percent of the food shipped to famine victims in Ethiopia and Sudan is getting "into the mouths of children" because of a lack of trucks and railroad transportation in the countries' interior, M. Peter McPherson, administrator of the Agency for International Development, said yesterday.
At the same time yesterday, a cargo jet, carrying the first shipment of food and medicine for Africa bought with funds raised through promotional items and the musical hit "We Are the World," took off from Los Angeles with supplies valued at $3.2 million.
McPherson, at a news conference, gave a status report on the almost 1.8 million metric tons of food aid that the United States has sent to help drought victims in more than a score of African countries.
Focusing on the two biggest recipients, Ethiopia and Sudan, McPherson said that about 40 percent of the shipped food is bottled up at ports and railroad terminals waiting for transportation into the country for distribution.
McPherson said that in Ethiopia 222,000 metric tons of food, of which 84,000 are U.S.-provided, are backed up at the entry ports of Assab, Massawa and Djibouti. He said that only about 1,000 trucks are being used to transport food from the ports and that 1,500 more are needed.
In Sudan, McPherson said, about 272,000 metric tons of food, of which 130,000 are from the United States, are backlogged in Port Sudan. There, he added, the problem is caused by much of the food being shipped by truck to Kosti, a railroad town on the Nile, and then transported by rail to the western part of the country.