Mekelle (Diplomat.so) - In a dire development, more than 200 people have lost their lives to starvation since July in Edaga Arbi town, located in Ethiopia's drought-stricken and war-torn Tigray region, according to local authorities. Additionally, 16 fatalities have been reported in the nearby Adwa town, painting a grim picture of the escalating humanitarian situation.
Despite alarming reports from Tigray officials warning of an impending famine on a scale not seen since 1984, the central government in Addis Ababa denies the looming crisis, asserting ongoing efforts to provide aid. This denial contradicts the concerns raised by medical professionals and humanitarian workers who stress the urgent need for faster aid delivery to prevent further loss of life.
The victims of this unfolding tragedy are predominantly children and young people. Tigray resident Abrehet Kiros, speaking to a regional TV channel, sheds light on the dire conditions in the community, urging anyone who can to offer support.
The crisis in Tigray is exacerbated by the aftermath of the recent civil war, marked by widespread asset-stripping, destruction, mass displacement, unpaid salaries, and the obliteration of employment opportunities. Analyst Alex de Waal warns that Ethiopia's current food crisis could surpass the dire conditions of four decades ago, potentially resulting in half a million or more deaths from starvation in the coming year if prompt action is not taken.
International organizations, including the World Food Programme and USAid, have faced challenges in delivering aid, with alleged looting of food aid leading to aid suspension for months. An estimated 20 million people across Ethiopia urgently require food assistance due to conflicts, drought, and flooding, as reported by the United Nations. The Early Famine Warning Systems Network predicts that by mid-2024, the food crisis could escalate into a near-nationwide emergency. The situation is particularly dire in Tigray, where people are said to have accepted a daily reality of mourning and funerals, with many resigned to a seemingly inevitable fate.