The United Nations humanitarian chief has warned that famine is imminent in Ethiopia’s besieged Tigray region, as well as in the north of the country, and there is a risk of hundreds of thousands or more dying.
Mark Lowcock said that the economy has been destroyed along with businesses, crops, and farms and that there are no banking or telecommunications services.
“We have already heard of hunger-related deaths,” he said in a statement released on Friday. “People need to wake up. The international community really needs to step up, including by providing money.”
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, ordered a military land and air operation in Tigray in early November 2020 after accusing the then-ruling party of the northern region, the People’s Liberation Front. of Tigray (TPLF), to orchestrate attacks against federal army camps.
He blames the six-month-long Tigray conflict for the deaths of thousands of people and atrocities including rape, extrajudicial executions, and forced evictions, according to local authorities and aid groups.
Eritrea was associated with neighboring Ethiopia in the conflict.
“The conflict has destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure … led to mass killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence,” Lowcock told Al Jazeera before adding that there was evidence pointing to Eritrea using “hunger as a weapon of war.” a violation and violation of humanitarian law.
“Now there are hundreds of thousands of people in northern Ethiopia in famine conditions.
“That is the worst famine problem the world has seen in a decade. Now there is a risk that the loss of life will run into the hundreds of thousands or worse. ”
He added that there are more than a million people in places controlled by the opposition forces in Tigray and “there have been deliberate, repeated and sustained attempts to prevent them from obtaining food.”
In addition, there are places controlled by Eritreans and other places controlled by militia groups where it is extremely difficult to deliver aid, he said.
“Access for humanitarian workers is not there because of what men with guns and bombs are doing and what their political masters tell them to do,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
Lowcock said that it is necessary to remove all the blockades and that the Eritreans, “who are responsible for much of this need, withdraw” so that aid can reach those facing famine “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed must do what he said he was going to do and force Eritreans to leave Ethiopia,” he said Lowcock said leaders of the seven major industrialized nations – the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and Canada – should put the humanitarian crisis and the threat of widespread famine in northern Ethiopia on their agenda. June 11 summit. -13 in Cornwall, England.