EXCLUSIVE Some 350,000 people in famine-stricken Ethiopian Tigray – UN Document
An unpublished analysis by UN agencies and aid groups estimates that some 350,000 people in the conflict-torn Tigray region of Ethiopia are facing famine, according to an internal UN document viewed by Reuters Wednesday.
The Ethiopian government is challenging the Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) analysis, according to notes from a meeting on the situation in Tigray of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) – made up of the heads of at least 18 – United Nations.
“On the risk of famine, it was noted that the unpublished figures of the IPC analysis were contested by the Ethiopian government, in particular the 350,000 people estimated across Tigray who would be in conditions of IPC 5 starvation”, indicates the June 7 document.
He also said the analysis, which diplomats said could be made public as early as Thursday, found millions more across Tigray in need “of urgent food and health support. agriculture / means of subsistence to avoid further drifts towards famine “.
United Nations Aid Chief Mark Lowcock chairs the committee, which includes the United Nations Children’s Agency, UNICEF, the World Food Program, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
A senior Ethiopian diplomat in New York, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the government challenged the analysis, questioning investigative methods and accusing the IPC of lack of transparency and insufficient consultation with officials. competent authorities.
The Ethiopian government’s emergency task force on Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office and the Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Ethiopian Embassy in London said in a statement on Saturday that the government “takes its responsibility to end the current suffering of the people of Tigray very seriously and has so far made concerted efforts to respond comprehensively to the humanitarian needs on the ground, in coordination with local and international partners. “
Famine has been declared twice in the past decade – in Somalia in 2011 and in South Sudan in 2017, according to the IPC. UN agencies, aid groups, governments and other stakeholders use the IPC to work together to determine the severity of food insecurity.
Fighting erupted in Tigray in November between government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray. Troops from neighboring Eritrea have also entered the conflict to support the Ethiopian government.
Violence in Tigray has killed thousands of people and forced over 2 million people from their homes in the mountainous region of over 5 million people.
The United Nations said on Wednesday that incidents of denial of aid movement and interrogation, assault and detention of aid workers at military checkpoints had been reported, as well as looting and confiscation of assets and humanitarian supplies by parties to the conflict.
“The levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are at alarming levels,” said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, adding that there had been reports of famine among the displaced people, while there was a serious need for food in north-western Tigray after the fire or the looting of crops. He did not assign blame.
Another UN spokesperson declined to comment specifically on the IASC’s internal notes.
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