AP — A report issued on Thursday warns that over 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray province are facing famine and over two million are just a step away, blaming the dire situation on the ongoing conflict that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee, limited humanitarian access and the loss of harvests and income.
The report said the 350,000 people represent the largest number of people facing famine since the 2011 famine in Somalia.
It projects that between July and September the number of people facing famine will rise to over 400,000.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which is a global partnership of 15 United Nations (UN) agencies and international humanitarian organisations, prepared the report. It uses five categories of food security from people who have enough to eat to those facing “Famine-Humanitarian Catastrophe”.
In that worst category now confronting more than 350,000 people in Tigray, at least 20 per cent of households face a complete lack of food “and starvation, death and destitution are evident”.
In addition, acute malnutrition is evident in more than 30 per cent of households and deaths from starvation exceed two people per 1,000 population every day.
The report said over two million Tigrayans are just a step below in the “Humanitarian Emergency” category characterised by extreme gaps in food consumption, acute malnutrition and excess mortality in at least 20 per cent of households. And more than three million Tigrayans in the “crisis” category are just below that.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told a virtual high-level meeting on the humanitarian emergency in Tigray organised by the United States (US) and European Union (EU) on Thursday that “there is famine now” in the region, and warning that “this is going to get a lot worse”.
But Lowcock told representatives from the Group of Seven major industrialised nations and EU that “the worst can still be avoided” if action is taken to help Tigray now. He said it’s crucial to prevent a re-run of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, which “would have wide-ranging and long-lasting ramifications.
“My message is: don’t go there,” Lowcock said.
Head of the UN World Food Program (WFP) David Beasley called the new data “alarming” and said the lack of data from western Tigray in the analysis is “deeply worrying”.
Forces from the neighbouring Amhara region have reportedly attacked civilians and taken control of areas in western Tigray.