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More than 350,000 people affected by the famine in Tigray, Ethiopia, warns the UN

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More than 350,000 people in Tigray in Ethiopia are suffering from famine conditions and millions more at risk, according to an analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups that blamed the conflict for the worst catastrophic food crisis in a decade.

“Now there is famine in Tigray,” UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday after the publication of the analysis of the Integrated Food Safety Classification (IPC), which according to the IPC has not been endorsed by the Ethiopian government. .

“The number of people in famine conditions … is higher than anywhere in the world, at any time since a quarter of a million Somalis lost their lives in 2011,” Lowcock said.

Most of Tigray’s 5.5 million people need food aid.

Clashes broke out in the region in November between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Troops from neighboring Eritrea also came into conflict to support the Ethiopian government.

The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2 million from their homes in the mountainous region.

The most extreme warning in the IPC, a scale used by UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups to determine food insecurity, is phase 5, which begins with a catastrophe warning and escalates to a declaration of famine in a region.

The IPC said that more than 350,000 people in Tigray are in phase 5 of the disaster. This means that households are experiencing famine conditions, but less than 20% of the population is affected and deaths and malnutrition have not reached famine thresholds.

“This severe crisis is the result of the cascading effects of the conflict, including population displacements, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of crop assets and livelihoods, and dysfunctional or non-existent markets,” he found. the CPI analysis.

For famine to be declared, at least 20% of the population must be suffering from extreme food shortages, with one in three children severely malnourished and two people in 10,000 dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease.

‘Nightmare’

Famine has been declared twice in the last decade: in Somalia in 2011 and in parts of South Sudan in 2017.

“If the conflict escalates further or, for any other reason, humanitarian assistance is hampered, most areas of Tigray will be at risk of famine,” according to the IPC, adding that even if aid deliveries escalate , the situation is expected. get worse until September.

The Ethiopian government questioned the CPI analysis, saying that the food shortage is not serious and that aid is being delivered.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Dina Mufti told a press conference on Thursday that the government was providing food aid and aid to farmers in Tigray.

“They (diplomats) are comparing it to the 1984 and 1985 famine in Ethiopia,” he said. “That’s not gonna happen.”

But the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said a humanitarian nightmare was unfolding.

“This is not the kind of disaster that can be reversed,” he told a US-European Union event in Tigray on Thursday.

Referring to a previous famine in Ethiopia that killed more than 1 million people, he said: “We cannot make the same mistake twice. We cannot let Ethiopia starve. We have to act now.”

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said that preventing hunger from killing millions of people in Tigray requires a ceasefire, unimpeded access to aid and more money to expand aid operations.

According to notes from a meeting of UN agencies on Monday, seen by Reuters, the CPI’s analysis could be worse as it “did not include those from the Amhara-controlled areas” in western Tigray.

Mituku Kassa, head of Ethiopia’s National Committee for Disaster Prevention and Preparedness, said Wednesday: “We have no shortage of food.”

(REUTERS)

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