Over 400,000 in Tigray suffering famine now, with 1.8m on the brink

 Over 400,000 in Tigray suffering famine now, with 1.8m on the brink

Over 400,000 in Tigray suffering famine now, with 1.8m on the brink

ADDIS ABABA,03 July: More than 400,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray are now suffering famine and 1.8 million others are on the brink, a top United Nations official has said, painting a devastating picture of an embattled region where humanitarian access is extremely restricted.

Tigray has been racked by conflict since November 2020 when fighting erupted between Ethiopia’s federal government – backed by troops from neighbouring Eritrea and fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region – and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the northern region’s then-ruling party.

The UN Security Council held its first public meeting on the conflict on Friday, days after the Tigrayan forces, in a stunning turn of events, retook the regional capital, Mekelle.

Acting UN aid chief Ramesh Rajasingham told the council that the humanitarian situation in Tigray had “worsened dramatically” in recent weeks, with an increase of some 50,000 in the number of people now facing famine.

“More than 400,000 people brink is estimated to have crossed the threshold into famine and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine. Some are suggesting that the numbers are even higher. 33,000 children are severely malnourished,” he said.

“Two million people are still displaced and close to 5.2 million people still require humanitarian assistance. The great majority are women and children. One of the most distressing trends is the alarming rise in food insecurity and hunger due to conflict.”

The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday, which the TPLF dismissed as a “joke”. The region has since experienced electricity and communication blackouts and there are reports of continued clashes in some places, with different forces controlling different areas.

UN political and peacebuilding affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo said reports indicate that TPLF leaders including its former president, Debretsion Gebremichael, have returned to Mekelle. “Key infrastructure has been destroyed, and there are no flights entering or leaving the area,” she said.

Elsewhere in Tigray, DiCarlo said, Eritrean forces, who have been accused by witnesses of some of the worst atrocities in the war, have “withdrawn to areas adjacent to the border” with Eritrea.

Amhara forces remain in western Tigray, and DiCarlo said the Amhara branch of the ruling Prosperity Party warned in a statement on June 29 that the region’s forces will remain in territory it seized in the west during the conflict.

The ambassador, who comes from that part of Ethiopia, said the western area was once part of Amhara but was “forcibly incorporated into Tigray in 1990 without any due process”. He said the dispute will now be submitted to a government border commission.

Web Desk

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