UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has said there is famine in northern Ethiopia after the release of a UN-backed analysis of the situation.
“There is famine now,” he said, adding: “This is going to get a lot worse.” The study found that 350,000 people were living in “severe crisis” in the war-torn Tigray region, as well as neighbouring Amhara and Afar. Tigray has been devastated by fighting between government forces and rebels, with 1.7 million people displaced.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization and children’s agency Unicef have all called for urgent action to address the crisis.
The analysis – or Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) as it is known – was not endorsed by Ethiopia’s government, which insists that humanitarian access is being expanded as it restores order across the region.
People in Qafta Humera, an isolated district in the west of Tigray, told the BBC this week they were on the verge of starvation. “We don’t have anything to eat,” one man said by phone, explaining their crops and livestock had been looted during seven months of war.