Around 350,000 People Reportedly Facing Famine Conditions In Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
A United Nations-backed analysis has found around 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s conflict-ridden Tigray region are facing famine conditions, Reuters first reported, raising fears that the clashes between the country’s forces and rebel groups may lead to a severe humanitarian crisis.
Citing U.N. documents, Reuters reported that an estimated 350,000 people across Tigray are believed to be facing what the world body classifies as a Phase 5 food security crisis—the highest level.
As per the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system, a Phase 5 catastrophe or famine means that a region’s households face an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs and may face malnutrition, starvation, destitution or even death.
The analysis of the situation in Tigray was carried out by an Inter-Agency Standing Committee composed of 18 U.N. and non-U.N. organizations.
The Ethiopian authorities, however, pushed back against the report arguing that the famine classification is inaccurate and claimed that more than 90% of people in the region are being provided with aid.
The government instead accused the rebel paramilitary group Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) of attacking personnel and trucks with food, the Reuters report added.
U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that some areas of Tigray remain inaccessible where “the situation is dire, including dysfunctional water systems and limited or no health facilities. Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are at alarming levels.” Dujarric noted that aid workers in the region are facing interrogation, assault, and detention at military checkpoints.
The armed conflict between Ethiopian government troops and a regional paramilitary group the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) broke out in November last year. TPLF, which was part of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, was ousted from power in 2018 amid growing discontent. Tensions boiled over in September last year after the Ethiopian government refused to recognize the results of the regional election in Tigray in which the TPLF purportedly won 98% of the popular vote. Since the start of the conflict, troops from neighboring Eritrea have joined in support of the Ethiopian government. The violence has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and has forced more than 2 million people out of their homes. The Eritrean government has accused the U.S. government for Ethiopia’s “destabilization” accusing it of supporting the TPLF for nearly 20 years. In a letter sent to the U.N. Security Council earlier this week, the Eritrean foreign minister Osman Saleh alleged that the Biden administration had been “stoking further conflict and destabilization” in the region.