According to an analysis conducted by the United Nations agency more than 350,000 individuals in Ethiopia`s Tigray are suffering from famine. The United Nations also revealed that millions more other Tigrayans remained at risk of famine as it gets worse.
Because of the high number of those affected Ethiopia now has the highest number of people in famine conditions than anywhere in the world. Most of the aid groups in Ethiopia blame the conflict that erupted in Tigray for the worst catastrophic food crisis in a decade.
Escalation of the conflict in Tigray
The Tigray region housed some 5.5 million people before the fighting began in the region in November. Since then, the government troops and the region`s former ruling party, the Tigray People`s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been engaged in a bitter war. When troops from neighboring Eritrea also entered the conflict to support the Ethiopian government everything got worse.
Tigray saw increased violence which led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and forced more than 2 million people from their homes in the mountainous region. Additionally, the severe crisis resulted in movement restrictions which limited humanitarian access. The conflict also led to the loss of harvests and livelihood assets as well as dysfunctional or non-existent markets. Such outcomes of the conflict fueled the cascading famine in Tigray causing a very dire situation.
Declaration of Famine in Tigray
Currently, most of the 5.5 million people of Tigray need food aid. The U.N agencies, regional bodies, and aid groups use the IPC scale to determine food insecurity. The IPC determined more than 350,000 people were in phase 5 catastrophe. Phase 5 is the most extreme warning by the IPC scale. The scale starts with a catastrophe warning and rises to a declaration of famine in a region.
The results from the IPC meant that many households in Tigray were experiencing famine conditions. Only 20% of the population in the region however were affected by the famine conditions. The deaths and malnutrition in such regions had not reached famine thresholds in other regions.
The IPC scale requires at least 20% of the population of a region to be suffering extreme food shortages for famine to be declared. Additionally, the scale requires one in three children to be acutely malnourished and two people out of every 10,000 dying daily from starvation or malnutrition and disease.
Dispute of Famine claims by the Ethiopian Government
But ever since the U.N releases the IPC analysis results the Ethiopian government has disputed outcomes. The government has said that food shortages are not severe and aid is being delivered in the affected Tigray region. Some leaders have even stated that the U.N is comparing the situation in Tigray with the 1984, 1985 famine in Ethiopia. These officials have assured that the situation remains under control and what occurred in 1984 cannot happen again.
The U.N and other aid groups have however expressed their continued worry over the state of the Tigray region. Such organizations say if the conflict continues to escalate most areas in Tigray will face famine.