ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Nearly 40 per cent of people in Ethiopia’s Tigray face “an extreme lack of food” amid an extended de-facto blockade of the war-hit region, the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.
“A new food security assessment… shows that almost 40 per cent of Tigrayans are suffering an extreme lack of food, after 15 months of conflict,” the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement.
The dire figure comes as aid groups are being forced to increasingly curtail activities because of fuel and supply shortages, and as fresh fighting in northern Ethiopia limits avenues for getting aid in. Yesterday, the UN’s humanitarian coordination office said international aid groups in the region were completely out of fuel and had been reduced to delivering assistance to malnourished civilians on foot.
The WFP statement said 83 per cent of Tigrayans were food insecure.
“Families are exhausting all means to feed themselves, with three quarters of the population using extreme coping strategies to survive,” it said.
“Diets are increasingly impoverished as food items become unavailable and families rely almost exclusively on cereals while limiting portion sizes and the number of meals they eat each day to make whatever food is available stretch further.”
The agency also sounded the alarm about rising hunger in the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, which have also been hit hard by fighting in recent months.
“WFP is doing all it can to ensure our convoys with food and medicines make it through the frontlines,” said WFP’s East Africa director Michael Dunford.
“But if hostilities persist, we need all the parties to the conflict to agree to a humanitarian pause and formally agreed transport corridors, so that supplies can reach the millions besieged by hunger,” Dunford said.
Fighting broke out in Tigray in November 2020, and the region of six million people has been subject to what the UN describes as a de facto blockade for months.
Washington accuses Abiy’s government of blocking aid, while Addis Ababa blames rebel incursions.