“There is currently a famine in Ethiopia,” warned UN aid chief Mark Lowcock on Thursday.
According to the global Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) system, which assesses food insecurity and malnutrition around the world, significant parts of the Tigray region are currently in the status of “IPC 5 Catastrophe” – its most severe assessment.
A major cause of the desperate food situation in Tigray is the conflict, the report said: “This severe crisis is the result of the cascading effects of the conflict, including population displacement, restricted mobility, restricted humanitarian access, loss of crops and livelihoods, and dysfunctional or non-existent markets.”
UN authorities are particularly concerned about the risk of widespread famine in Tigray if the conflict escalates and humanitarian aid is severely hampered.
In a tweet following the report’s release, Lowcock called for urgent funding and unhindered access for aid supplies.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on the UN Security Council to meet publicly on the Tigray region and to seek answers from the Ethiopian government.
“We must not let Ethiopia starve to death. We have to act now,” she said.
In November 2020, fighting broke out between Ethiopian government forces and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Most recently, troops from neighboring Eritrea joined the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.
The Ethiopian government denies that there is a severe food shortage in the country.