“There is famine in Ethiopia right now,” United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock warned on Thursday.
According to the global Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) system, which evaluates food insecurity and malnutrition around the world, substantial parts of the Tigray region are currently in an “IPC 5 Catastrophe” status — its most severe rating.
A key cause of the desperate food situation in Tigray is conflict, the report found: “This severe crisis results from the cascading effects of conflict, including population displacements, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest and livelihood assets, and dysfunctional or non-existent markets.”
UN agencies say they are particularly concerned by the risk of widespread famine in Tigray, if conflict escalates, and humanitarian assistance is significantly hampered.
In a tweet following the report’s release, Lowcock called for urgent funding and unobstructed access for aid deliveries.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on the UN Security council to meet publicly on the Tigray region and demand answers from the Ethiopian government.
“We cannot let Ethiopia starve. We have to act now,” she said.
Fighting between Ethiopian government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), broke out in November 2020. Troops from neighbouring Eritrea latterly joined the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.
The Ethiopian government have denied there are severe food shortages in the country.