Close to 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s conflict-prone Tigray region and the northern parts of the country are facing famine, conditions which could get worse by the end of the weekend if action is not taken to address difficulties faced by aid workers to get humanitarian aid to reach the conflict region, a new UN report has disclosed.
The report released Thursday by a high-level UN-led committee responsible for the humanitarian crisis blamed Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers for blocking aid and making it difficult for those in the affected region to get help.
Last week Friday, the UN raised the alarm about possible famine hitting the embattled Tigray region and the northern part of Ethiopia, attributing it to the destruction of crops, non-functioning of banking and telecommunication services, and, above all, the attitude of Ethiopian soldiers denying access to humanitarian aid workers.
Reuters quoted the UN report that shows millions of people in Tigray are “in urgent need of food and agriculture/livelihoods support to avert further slides towards famine.” The report states that the situation could further worsen if nothing is done to address the situation.
But the UN reports about the declaration of famine have been criticized by Mituku Kassa, Ethiopia’s National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee, describing the declaration as “incorrect” and rejected the allegations that Ethiopian forces are attacking UN aid workers.
He told reporters Thursday the attack on aid workers is by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), not Ethiopian soldiers.
“TPLF remnant forces … attack the personnel, they attack the trucks with food,” he told reporters. “We don’t have any food shortages.”
Last month, CNN produced a report showing how Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers were blocking access to food supply in the embattled Tigray region, confirming local sources who had reported the use of starvation as a war strategy by Ethiopian soldiers.
The US Department of State also imposed visa restrictions two weeks ago on government and former officials in Eritrea and Ethiopia for failing to resolve the Tigray conflict.
In response to the visa restriction, hundreds of Ethiopians stormed the streets last week, waving the Russian flag and condemning the US.