“There is a famine in Ethiopia right now,” UN Secretary-General Mark Lowcock warned on Thursday.
According to the Global Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) system, which assesses food security and malnutrition around the world, significant parts of the Tigray region are currently in an “IPC 5 disaster” status – its most serious assessment.
One major cause of the desperate food situation in Tigray is conflict, the report found: “This severe crisis is due to the cascading effects of conflict, including population shifts, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest and livelihood assets and dysfunctional or non-existent markets.”
UN agencies say they are particularly concerned about the risk of widespread famine in Tigray if the conflict escalates and humanitarian aid is significantly hampered.
In a tweet following the report’s release, Lowcock called for urgent funding and unhindered access to aid supplies.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on the UN Security Council to meet publicly on the Tigray region and demand answers from the Ethiopian government.
“We can not let Ethiopia starve. We have to act now,” she said.
Fighting between Ethiopian government troops and the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), erupted in November 2020. Troops from neighboring Eritrea joined the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.
The Ethiopian government has denied that there is a serious food shortage in the country.