The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock warned the Security Council on Tuesday that urgent measures are needed to avoid starvation in the war-torn region of Tigray in Ethiopia, in a briefing seen by AFP.
“There is a serious risk of famine if assistance is not scaled up in the next two months,” wrote Lowcock.
More than six months after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched what he termed a “rapid” military operation, the fighting and abuses continue in Tigray, where the specter of a famine has been hovering for several months.
“Concrete measures are urgently needed to break the vicious cycle between armed conflict, violence and food insecurity,” said Lowcock in his two-and-a-half page note.
“I urge members of the Security Council and other Member States to take any steps possible to prevent a famine from occurring,” he said.
“Today, at least 20 percent of the population in that area face emergency food insecurity,” the British official said, adding that “destruction and violence against civilians continue even now across Tigray.”
“In the six and a half months since the start of the conflict in Tigray in early November 2020 an estimated two million people have been displaced. Civilians are being killed and injured,” he added.
“Rape and other forms of abhorrent sexual violence are widespread and systematic. Public and private infrastructure and objects indispensable to the survival of civilians have been destroyed, including hospitals and agricultural land,” he warned.
The UN official estimated that “over 90 percent of the harvest was lost due to looting, burning, or other destruction, and that 80 percent of the livestock in the region were looted or slaughtered.”
“Despite improvements in March and the co-operation of authorities at the local level, humanitarian access on the whole has recently deteriorated,” Lowcock wrote.
“Humanitarian operations are being attacked, obstructed or delayed in delivering life-saving assistance. Eight aid workers have been killed in Tigray in the last six months.”