Over 30,000 children risk death in famine-stricken Tigray: United Nations – Edexlive
Tens of thousands of malnourished children are at risk of dying in hard-to-reach areas of Ethiopia’s conflict-ravaged and now famine-stricken Tigray region, the United Nations said on Friday. “Without humanitarian access to scale up our response, it is estimated that over 30,000 severely malnourished children in these very inaccessible areas are at high risk of death,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told reporters in Geneva. .
He said the United Nations children’s agency was working with other organizations to help deal with the crisis, but did not have access to large parts of the region. “An estimated 33,000 severely malnourished children in currently inaccessible areas of Tigray are at high risk of death,” he said. “The world cannot allow this to happen.”
His comments came a day after the UN said 350,000 people in Tigray were facing starvation, while two million more were within walking distance of the extreme conditions. “There is now a famine in Tigray,” UN humanitarian aid chief Mark Lowcock said Thursday, warning that “any experts you talk to will tell you it will get worse.” Lowcock said new data showed the number of people classified as starving was “higher than anywhere in the world at any time since a quarter of a million Somalis lost their lives in 2011”. The UN has said more than 90 percent of the more than five million people in the Tigray region are in need of emergency food assistance, and has launched an urgent appeal for more than $ 200 million to scale up his answer.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops to the northern region in November to arrest and disarm leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray, the region’s former ruling party . He said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on Federal Army camps. Although he vowed the conflict would be brief, fighting continues more than six months later and reports of atrocities – including the widespread use of rape – are on the rise. Many leaders have warned of a major disaster.
The United States and the European Union on Thursday called for more international efforts to tackle the emerging famine. International humanitarian organizations have repeatedly complained that they have been denied access to the region by Ethiopian forces and troops from neighboring Eritrea. Tommy Thompson, the emergency coordinator of the World Food Program, lamented a “lack of political will to grant humanitarian access”.
Addressing the Geneva briefing via video link from Ethiopia, he said “we cannot access” a full quarter of the area where WFP aid was supposed to be needed in Tigray at all.
“In a lot of these places nobody has been there, and this is where we understand people are dying,” he said.
In addition to access, he said there was an urgent need for more funding for aid and cessation of hostilities operations in the region, stressing how dangerous it was for humanitarians to work where they could go.
“So far nine aid workers have been killed,” he said, adding that aid workers faced growing hostility at checkpoints, while beneficiaries often saw the aid provided to them looted. .
“We often find ourselves confronted with huge problems of protection, of assisting beneficiaries, only to then see those beneficiaries violently robbed.”
The World Health Organization has recognized that lack of access to those in need is wreaking havoc.
“We have teams ready, we have mobile clinics (…) that could provide nutrition, health care, all services,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters, adding that only the two third parties were operational.
“Our teams are turned away by belligerents,” she said, describing the situation as a “public health crisis”.
“Malnourished children are more likely to contract and die from many infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and measles,” she said, also warning of a worrying increase of Covid-19 infections.
“There is a potential for an explosive situation.”