By Faith Nyasuguta
Some 150 people have succumbed to starvation in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has said.
Since recapturing most parts of the region from government troops in June, it is the first time hunger-related deaths have been reported in the area.
The details in the statement are yet to be confirmed. However, the UN had previously indicated that some 400,000 people were already living in famine-like conditions in Tigray. The Ethiopian government is yet to respond to the statement.
In a last week statement, the UN said that some 5.2 million people which translates to 90 per cent of Tigray’s population – required aid urgently “to avert the world’s worst famine situation in decades’’.
Days back, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF soldiers were allies in the government but their relationship got salty following Ahmed’s political reforms that sparked the Tigray war starting November 2020.
The rebels have so far recaptured the bigger part of Tigray inclusive of Mekelle, the capital captured in June after about six months of losing its control.
According to the rebels, TPLF is the lawful government of Tigray after winning regional polls in 2020 despite the government saying the poll was illicit. The federal government treats the TPLF as a terrorist group.
NO FOOD SUPPLIES
In a Monday statement, the rebels highlighted that there was a “complete depletion of food stocks” in Tigray. They confirmed that those in camps after displacement were getting “no aid” and their host communities were also lacking food.
“One million people are at risk of fatal famine if they are prohibited from receiving life-saving aid within the next few days,” it added.
According to TPLF agriculture chief Atinkut Mezgebo, the masses were dying “in front of our eyes”. “In the villages and towns, there is a shortage of food and medicine, and the crisis might be bigger than what we know,” he said.
Atinkut noted that both women and children were the most affected. “Previously, people shared what they had, but now they don’t have anything to eat,” he added.
Grant Leaity, the UN’s acting humanitarian coordinator for Ethiopia, urged the federal government to permit the unimpeded entry of aid into Tigray.
On Sunday, the World Food Programme confirmed that some 100 trucks of its aid had reached Mekelle for the first time in two weeks. On Saturday, the government also revealed that 500 trucks ferrying supplies had entered Tigray, with 152 arriving in the past two days.