UN presages famine in Ethiopia’s Tigray is now impacting 400,000 people
UN Security Council has been warned by top officials of United Nations that now over 400,000 people in Tigray region of Ethiopia are in famine. The long going conflict in the region of Tigray between TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and federal forces is still at risk of more clashes due to famine even though unilateral ceasefire has been called by the Ethiopian federal forces. The fighting that broke out in last year November has been gradually joined by Eritrean forces giving a more aggressive and violent dimension to the war.
On Monday, the Ethiopian government led by Abiy Ahmed had declared a unilateral ceasefire. The announcement was however dismissed by TPLF as a joke. Clashes continue in some pockets as international pressure builds on all sides to end the conflict.
The first public meeting of Security Council into the matter was held on Friday after six rounds of private discussions. Ramesh Rajasingham, the acting UN aid chief told the Security Council that Tigray’s humanitarian situation has “worsened dramatically” in past few weeks. “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. Thirty-three thousand children are severely malnourished,” he said.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the government of Ethiopia must validate that “it truly intends to use the ceasefire to address the humanitarian catastrophe. She warned that denying access to aid is “not an indication of a humanitarian ceasefire, but of a siege.”
Ethiopia’s UN ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Made told reporters after addressing the council that aim of ceasefire “is not to make a siege, it is to save lives.” Made also questioned the need of meeting of Security Council and said that after ceasefire was already declared, council must have given support to parties to de-escalate situation rather than adding more pressure to the situation.
Thomas Greenfield urged the parties involved in the conflict to make the most of ceasefire, warning that else it could prove to be detrimental to Ethiopia as well as Horn of Africa.