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UN-led key committee says 350,000 in famine in Tigray

'Millions of other people in Tigray urgently need food to avoid famine'

ethiopia File: Residents carry jerrycans along a street in Dansha town in Tigray Region, Ethiopia | Reuters

A high-level UN-led committee that focuses on rapid responses to humanitarian crises estimates that some 350,000 people in Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region are facing famine conditions, a UN official said late Wednesday. A note from the meeting said millions of other people in Tigray urgently need food to avoid famine, said the official, who has not authorised to speak publicly. Last Friday, Lowcock warned that famine is imminent in Tigray and in the country's north, saying there is a risk that hundreds of thousands of people or more will die. No one knows how many thousands of civilians or combatants have been killed since months of political tensions between Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed's government and the Tigray leaders who once dominated it exploded into war last November.

Eritrea, a longtime Tigray enemy, teamed up with neighboring Ethiopia in the conflict. The UN has criticised the lack of access to all areas of Tigray for humanitarian workers seeking to deliver aid. Some areas of Tigray remain inaccessible, Dujarric said, and in accessible areas "the situation is dire, including dysfunctional water systems and limited or no health facilities". "In a community in the northwestern zone of Tigray, aid workers noted a severe need for food, after the burning or looting of harvests." Lowcock has said the war destroyed the economy along with businesses, crops and farms, and there are no banking or telecommunications services in Tigray.

"There are now hundreds of thousands of people in northern Ethiopia in famine conditions," Lowcock said then. "That's the worse famine problem the world has seen for a decade, since a quarter of a million Somalis lost their lives in the famine there in 2011." 

A US-based charity organisation USAID said that Washington is providing more than $181 million in aid so that  food, water and other essentials can be delivered to those faccing the famine.  Thousands have been killed in Tigray since conflict erupted in November. Over 2 million have been displaced and aout 91 per cent of the population is in need of aid.

USAID also aims to provide safe spaces and psychological support for women and girls as well as case management for survivors of gender-based violence, Reuters reported.

Supplies reaching the people with help of USAID should last three million people for two months. The aid also includes  seeds, tools and fertilizers to help farmers replant crops.

Ever since the conflict eruptedd in November 2020 between Special Forces of the Tigray Regional government and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) aided by the Ethiopian Federal Police and other regional forces, the US has contributed nearly $487 million in humanitarian assistance. 

-- With PTI inputs

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