Tens of thousands of children are at risk of starvation in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, the United Nations warned on Friday.
“Without humanitarian access to increase our aid, some 30,000 severely malnourished children in these extremely inaccessible areas are at great risk of dying,” said UN Children’s Fund spokesman James Elder.
UN humanitarian agencies, including UNICEF, the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), raised the alarm about the humanitarian effect of the violence in Tigray province again this week. .
Elder stressed that the world cannot allow impending catastrophe to happen as “more young children and babies come dangerously close to disease and potential death from malnutrition.”
‘June is a critical month’
A UN report released Thursday predicts that between July and September the number of people facing famine in Tigray will rise to more than 400,000.
“June is a critical month as this is when the grain planting season ends. When I was in Tigray in May … I saw the devastation of crops and livestock. And we sounded the alarms so people can plant now, so they can have food later in the year. That hasn’t happened. There are many problems, but safe access is still the most important thing, “Elder said.
“When we think of hunger, we often think of lack of food. But increasingly, the crisis is not only one of food insecurity, but also of clean water, sanitation and medical care, especially the prevention and treatment of diseases. Water and sanitation are as important as food for children and families facing hunger and food insecurity. “
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military operation on November 4 against the Tigray authorities of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in disagreement with the central power.
Abiy had promised a swift campaign, but almost six months after the capture of the regional capital, Mekele, by the federal army, fighting continues in Tigray, where criticism of the humanitarian situation alarms the international community.
Crucial to preventing a repeat famine in Ethiopia in 1984
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told a high-level virtual meeting on the humanitarian emergency in Tigray organized by the United States and the European Union on Thursday that “there is now famine” in the region, warning that “this is going to get a lot worse. ” . “
Lowcock told representatives of the Group of Seven major industrialized countries and the EU that “the worst can still be avoided” if steps are taken to help Tigray now.
He said it is crucial to prevent a repeat of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, which “would have far-reaching and long-lasting ramifications.”
“My message is: don’t go there,” Lowcock said.
Emergency operation to reach 1.4 million people is not enough
The UN World Food Program has mounted an emergency operation and increased food distribution to reach 1.4 million people, which accounts for just half the number of people they need to reach.
UNICEF needs € 8.8 million to provide ready-to-use therapeutic food to children in Tigray and neighboring affected areas in Amhara and Afar. The funding will also enable UNICEF and its partners to provide routine medicines and scale up life-saving treatments.
UNICEF’s chief of nutrition is currently in Tigray and is due to give a specialized briefing on Tuesday 15 June.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism