After several warnings of genocide and famine, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has declared a famine in Northern Ethiopia after the issue of an analysis report on the situation by the UN.
According to Lowcock, the famine has struck Ethiopia and it is expected to get a lot worse. Studies by the UN have found out that 350,000 people have been living in a major crisis-like state in the war-torn Tigray region and regions of Amhara and Afar.
With the war going on, Tigray has been torn apart by the fight between government forces and rebels with 1.7 million people displaced already.
Reports suggest that due to scarcity of food, the situation in the region has reached to a level of catastrophe. The residents of the region are suffering from starvation and death in small groups spread over large areas. The people in Qafta Humera, an isolated district in west Tigray, told officials that they were on the verge of starvation in between last week.
The residents also said that vehicles carrying aids were passing by at a lot of times but they didn’t receive any share in those aids.
This is not the first time that such a situation has occurred in Tigray. In 1984, Tigray and the neighbouring province of Wollo had experienced a famine caused by an ongoing war and drought at that time that led to around 600,000 deaths in the area.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization and children’s agency UNICEF have demanded immediate action to be taken against the crisis.
The analysis report by the UN also states that there have been many factors leading to this catastrophe. The tumbling effects of the conflict, poor harvest, limited humanitarian access, nil livelihood assets and the ramshackle state of markets have worsened the drought.
The report also says that as of May, 2021, 5.5 million people were facing extreme levels of food shortage in the region and the situation is most likely to worsen through September.
The main cause of war in Ethiopia is due a massive fallout between the region’s ruling party in 2020 – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over political changes to the country’s ethnically based federal system.
The president has earlier said that there was no conflict at the end of November, 2020 but the fighting has continued and taken an ugly turn with thousands of people killed and rest having to seek refuge in the neighbouring country of Sudan. Human rights are being abused at all levels.
A famine is only declared when at least 20 percent of households in a region face acute food shortage with negligible ability to cope, acute malnutrition rates surpass 30 percent and death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 people.
The UN or member states are not bound to declare a famine but they definitely have a right to shift global focus to the problem.