‘There’s a famine in Ethiopia right now,’ says UN aid chief

“There is famine in Ethiopia right now,” UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned on Thursday.

According to the global Integrated Food Security Stage Classification (IPC) system, which evaluates food insecurity and malnutrition around the world, large parts of the Tigre region are currently under “IPC 5 disaster” status – its most severe rating.

By May 2021, 5.5 million people in total Tigre and the neighboring areas of Amhara and Afar (more than half the population) are facing “high levels of acute food insecurity”, with devastating levels of 353,000. The report also said that the situation is expected to worsen by September.

The report found that conflict is a major cause of the dismal food situation in the Tigre: “This serious crisis stems from the widespread effects of conflict, including population displacement, movement restrictions, limited human access, loss of crop and livelihood property, and useless or non-existent markets.”

Last month CNN exclusively reported that Eritrean troops were coordinating with the Ethiopian army to cut important aid routes. A CNN team traveling through the central region of the Tigre saw Eritrean soldiers, some disguising themselves in old Ethiopian military uniforms, and blocking aid to a starving population.
'We'll see if America will save you now,' said the Tigranes, after hundreds of rounds were fired by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers

UN agencies say they are particularly concerned about the risk of widespread famine in the Tigre if conflict escalates and humanitarian aid is significantly hampered.

In a tweet following the report’s release, Lowcock called for immediate funding and uninterrupted access to aid distribution.

On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on the UN Security Council to publicly meet on the Tigre region and seek answers from the Ethiopian government.

“We cannot let Ethiopia go hungry. We have to act now,” she said.

Fighting broke out in November 2020 between Ethiopian government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Troops from neighboring Eritrean later joined the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.

The Ethiopian government has denied that there is a serious food shortage in the country.


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