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Despite Earlier Denial By Government, 400 Died of Hunger in Ethiopian Regions

In a stark acknowledgement of a dire humanitarian crisis, Ethiopia’s national ombudsman revealed on Tuesday that nearly 400 people have been killed by starvation in the Tigray and Amhara regions over recent months. 

This admission, though rare from a federal entity, sheds light on the grim reality facing communities gripped by drought and the lingering effects of a devastating civil war.

Local officials had previously reported deaths due to starvation, but Ethiopia’s federal government consistently refuted these claims as “completely wrong.” 

However, a team of experts dispatched by the ombudsman’s office conducted assessments in the affected regions, concluding that 351 individuals died from hunger in Tigray, with an additional 44 deaths recorded in Amhara within the past six months.

Despite the pressing need for assistance, only a fraction of those requiring aid have received it. 

An aid memo obtained by The Associated Press disclosed that just 14% of the 3.2 million people targeted for food assistance in Tigray had received aid by January 21st. 

The memo, issued by the Tigray Food Cluster, urgently called for humanitarian groups to “immediately scale up” their operations to avert severe food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly during the impending lean season.

The resumption of aid deliveries in Tigray after a prolonged pause was marred by challenges. 

Theft of humanitarian grain led to a suspension of aid by both the U.N. and the U.S., affecting millions across Ethiopia. While reforms were introduced to address theft, logistical hurdles and funding shortages persist, hindering the effective distribution of aid.

The situation is exacerbated by ongoing conflicts and drought in various regions of Ethiopia. In Amhara, a rebellion has impeded humanitarian efforts, while malnutrition rates among children in several parts of the country have reached alarming levels.

Tigray, once the epicentre of a brutal civil war, now faces a looming famine reminiscent of the 1984-85 disaster unless immediate action is taken to bolster the aid response. 

Despite warnings from Tigray’s authorities and international organizations, Ethiopia’s federal government continues to downplay the severity of the crisis, dismissing reports as inaccurate and politicized.

 

Source: AP News

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