News ID: 91998
Publish Date : 03 July 2021 - 22:08

TIGRAY (Al Jazeera) – More than 400,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray are now suffering famine and 1.8 million others are on the brink, a top United Nations official has said, painting a devastating picture of an embattled region where humanitarian access is extremely restricted.
Tigray has been racked by conflict since November 2020 when fighting erupted between Ethiopia’s federal government – backed by troops from neighboring Eritrea and fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region – and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the northern region’s then-ruling party.
The UN Security Council held its first public meeting on the conflict on Friday, days after the Tigrayan forces, in a stunning turn of events, retook the regional capital, Mekelle.
Acting UN aid chief Ramesh Rajasingham told the council that the humanitarian situation in Tigray had “worsened dramatically” in recent weeks, with an increase of some 50,000 in the number of people now facing famine.
“More than 400,000 people are estimated to have crossed the threshold into famine and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine. Some are suggesting that the numbers are even higher. 33,000 children are severely malnourished,” he said.
“Two million people are still displaced and close to 5.2 million people still require humanitarian assistance. The great majority are women and children. One of the most distressing trends is the alarming rise in food insecurity and hunger due to conflict.”
The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire on Monday, which the TPLF dismissed as a “joke”. The region has since experienced electricity and communication blackouts and there are reports of continued clashes in some places, with different forces controlling different areas.
There has been no immediate comment by the Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa, which previously described its “withdrawal” as a strategic move and said it was taken partly on humanitarian grounds aimed at facilitating farming in the mountainous region.
Elsewhere in Tigray, Eritrean forces, who have been accused by witnesses of some of the worst atrocities in the war, have “withdrawn to areas adjacent to the border” with Eritrea.
Amhara forces remain in western Tigray, and the Amhara branch of the ruling Prosperity Party warned in a statement on June 29 that the region’s forces will remain in territory it seized in the west during the conflict.

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