75% of Tigray population facing severe hunger as war rages in Ethiopia
- 75% of the Tigray population face severe hunger.
- Food aid has been turned away by local militias.
- Only 4 000 tons of improved seed out of 49 000 tons needed for the cropping season in April available.
An estimated 75% of the seven million population in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region have employed extreme coping strategies, with food aid, healthcare and other basic human needs cut off.
This is because of a combination of factors, chief among them the conflict in which the local Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) are fighting against the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Ethiopian Federal Police, regional police and gendarmerie forces of the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, with the involvement of the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF).
The war has made it nearly impossible for aid givers to reach communities that are cut off – particularly, Tigray, Afar and Amhara.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it could not provide relief aid at the pace needed. Since December last year, its operations have been compromised.
The organisation said:With fuel and food stocks at an all-time low, particularly in the Tigray Region, WFP is unable to deliver at the pace and scale necessary to reach those in need.
In June last year, three Médecins Sans Frontières team members were killed in Tigray, forcing the aid organisation to stop its operations. Many others followed suit as threats increased.
Aid givers estimate that only 30% of the caloric needs of crisis-affected populations were provided for in the past months and that to cover the gap, WFP “needs guarantees from all parties to the conflict of safe and secure humanitarian corridors via all routes into the region immediately, so supplies can flow in and reach millions in need of life-saving assistance at scale”.
In an interview with Reuters, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield said the US has made the delivery of humanitarian aid a top priority in Tigray, but efforts had been blocked by “local elements out of the deep resentment, distrust of intentions on the part of everyone”.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the situation would most likely get worse in the next few months, partly because the region’s food harvest last season accounted for half the region’s needs.
“In Tigray, families are exhausting all remaining means to access food, with three-quarters of the population reported being using extreme coping strategies to survive. The level of food insecurity is expected to worsen in the coming months as remaining food stocks from the last harvest, which was half of the normal year production, get depleted and humanitarian assistance is not delivered,” OCHA said in its situational report for March.
The Meher (cropping) season is a month away, but only 4 000 tons of improved seed, out of 49 000 tons required is available in Tigray. As such, a third consecutive poor agricultural season partly man-made through conflict is likely to further worsen food security in the region.