Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (diplomat.so) - In a grim revelation, a senior government official disclosed on Wednesday that at least 372 individuals have succumbed to starvation exacerbated by drought in two northern Ethiopian regions over the past six months. Endale Haile, head of the Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman, revealed that 351 fatalities occurred in the Tigray region, with an additional 21 deaths recorded in the neighboring Amhara region.
Haile emphasized that these findings stemmed from a 10-day assessment in the affected areas, indicating the potential for even higher casualty figures if a broader sample were to be examined. He underscored the urgent need for government intervention, urging authorities to acknowledge the severity of the crisis and take decisive action.
Notably, government spokesperson Legesse Tulu, Mengasha Fentaw of the Amhara region, and Redaei Halefom of Tigray did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the alarming death toll.
The dire situation in Ethiopia's northern regions is compounded by the protracted conflict in Tigray and the region's worst drought in decades, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). With over 20 million people requiring assistance, Ethiopia faces a deepening food crisis.
The unrest has escalated in recent months, particularly in Amhara, where clashes between state forces and local militiamen have added to the region's woes, exacerbating the effects of prolonged drought.
In December, Getachew Reda, president of the Tigray region's interim administration, warned that 91% of the population was at risk of starvation and death, underscoring the overwhelming challenges faced by local authorities.
Despite these alarming reports, government spokesperson Legesse previously dismissed such claims as lacking factual accuracy, fueling concerns about the government's response to the humanitarian crisis.
The situation worsened last May when the WFP suspended food aid to Tigray due to widespread theft of donations, prompting a subsequent halt in aid to all of Ethiopia in June, following a similar move by the United States.