Northern Ethiopia facing famine, says Tigray official

A family in rural southern Tigray collects water.
Image caption,The two-year conflict plus this year’s drought have left many in a desperate situation

By Kalkidan Yibeltal

BBC News, Addis Ababa

Ethiopia’s war-scarred Tigray region is “on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe” comparable to the famine in 1984-85 that prompted the global fundraising music event Live Aid, a regional leader has said.

A starkly worded statement said “starvation and death” were hovering over the northern region.

The federal authorities have denied there is a famine.

Until November last year, Tigray and the central government were at war.

Hundreds of thousands are thought to have died as a result of the 24-month conflict between the federal army, its allies and Tigrayan forces.

The conflict also disrupted agricultural life, forced hundreds of thousands from their homes and destroyed vital infrastructure, leaving Tigray very vulnerable.

Following that, drought in some areas plus a locust infestation exacerbated the situation, said the president of Tigray’s interim administration, Getachew Reda.

It has now left 91% of the region’s population exposed “to the risk of starvation”, according to his statement.

Mr Getachew’s administration was set up after a peace deal was agreed last year.

Local officials had previously said hundreds of people had died of hunger in recent months. A recent UN report described an “escalating food security crisis” in Tigray.

In November, the US and the UN announced they would resumed food aid to Ethiopia, months after suspending it over allegations of theft.

The interim administration called on Ethiopia’s federal government and the international community to intervene to save lives.

But Ethiopia’s Federal Disaster Risk Management Commission has denied reports of famine in Ethiopia, adding the government is galvanising efforts to provide support those affected by drought.

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