Tigray: "Over 350,000 people are suffering from famine and hunger in the Tigray region in Ethiopia," found the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis by the UN agencies. The report revealed that millions more are at risk of going hungry.
Tigray in Ethiopia is the site of a civil war between government troops and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (former ruling party). Thousands of civilians have already died in the violence, and over 2 million people were forced to flee from their homes.
The IPC analysis found that the severe conflict in the region has resulted in population displacement, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest, loss of livelihood, dysfunctional or non-existent markets.
The UN aid Chief Mark Lowcock said that the number of people living in the famine conditions in Tigray is the highest in the whole world after a quarter-million people died in Somalia in 2011. He added that most of the 5.5 million people living in the Tigray region are in need of assistance to not go hungry.
The Integrated Food Security Phase classification says that the 3.5 lakh people in the war-torn region are in phase 5 catastrophe, which is the most extreme warning by the UN agency. Phase five starts with a catastrophe warning and rises to a declaration of famine.
Tigray is in the initial stages of phase 5. In the region, phase 5 means that people's households are experiencing famine, but less than 20% of the population is affected. Deaths and malnutrition haven't yet reached famine thresholds.
It is likely to gradually progress to a declaration of famine. For famine to be declared, at least 20% of the population must be suffering from extreme food shortages, one in three children should be malnourished, and two out of 10,000 people should be dying every day from starvation or malnutrition, or disease.
The UN agency said that the region will be experiencing famine if the conflict further escalates or humanitarian assistance is hampered. The situation is likely to worsen by September even if the aid deliveries are stepped up.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that a humanitarian nightmare is unfolding and it is not the kind of disaster that can be reversed. She was referring to the previous famine in Ethiopia that killed over one million people.
The Ethiopian government disputed the IPC analysis and said food shortages are not severe. Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told the media that the government is providing food and help to farmers in Tigray.