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UN Says Ethiopia Facing Another Starvation Crisis

Ethiopia Crisis
A child in the Tigray region of Ethiopia eats a nutritional biscuit provided by UNICEF Ethiopia. Credit: UNICEF Ethiopia, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The United Nations issued a stark warning to the world on Wednesday about Ethiopia’s current starvation crisis.

Thousands of people are struggling with starvation as the conflict in the country rages on. Violence broke out last November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, announced a plan to oust the Tigray region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Ahmed said he had no choice but to launch the offensive after TPLF attacked military camps. Reports of starvation in the region quickly emerged soon after, as local food sources were in the path of the Ethiopian force’s destruction.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, has announced that Tigray has received only 10% of the humanitarian supplies it desperately needs.

“So people have been eating roots and flowers and plants instead of a normal steady meal. The lack of food will mean that people will start to die,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths said that the crisis constitutes a “stain on our consciousness” and recounted his trip to Tigray, where roughly 200,000 children have also been deprived of the chance to get vaccinations due to the conflict.

Despite their best efforts, humanitarian workers have found it almost impossible to bring supplies to Tigray, as almost all of their items are confiscated when boarding flights to the region.

Ethiopia’s hunger crisis could spread beyond Tigray as conflict worsens

Griffiths also warned that the conflict has moved beyond Tigray and into the neighboring region of Amhara, which means that thousands more people may be vulnerable to starvation too.

Ahmed’s government has accused humanitarian workers of giving support to the TPLF, creating a rift that has made moving aid into Tigray even more of a challenge.

Griffith said that these sentiments were “unacceptable and unfair.” He said that he has asked the Ethiopian government to show evidence of any misconduct perpetrated by humanitarian workers so that the UN could launch an investigation, but has yet to receive any: “so far as I’m aware, we haven’t had such cases put to us.”

Griffiths hopes that an upcoming shift in the Ethiopian government may lead to a change in the incredibly dire situation. A new administration will be formed over the course of the next week, but Ahmed will serve another five years in office.

Griffiths said that: “We’d all like to see is with that election inauguration, that we would see new leadership leading Ethiopia away from the abyss that it’s peering into at the moment, that the national dialogue process which he discussed with me in the past, and his deputy discussed with me last week, that needs to happen.”

“It needs to be coherent, it needs to be inclusive and it needs to be soon.”

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