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Famine in Tigray Set to Spread in Ethiopia, UN Warns

Famine in Tigray Set to Spread in Ethiopia, UN Warns

Thursday, 17 June, 2021 - 07:15
Women carry a coffee table at a traffic circle in Jimma, on June 15, 2021, on the eve of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's visit to the city during his electoral campaign ahead of June 21, 2021, vote. (MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

The United Nations humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that 1984 famine that killed more than 1 million Ethiopians could occur again if aid access to that country's northern Tigray region is not quickly improved, scaled up and properly funded.

"The situation is set to get worse in the coming months, not only in Tigray but in Afar and Amhara, as well."

Outgoing UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the 15-member council in a private briefing that “no one should be surprised to see a rerun” of a devastating 1984 famine if violence in Tigray does not stop and Eritrean troops do not withdraw.

Eritrean troops in Ethiopia's Tigray region are expected to "definitely leave soon," Ethiopia's UN envoy said after a top UN official told the Security Council on Tuesday that Eritrea's soldiers were using starvation as a weapon of war.

“Rape is being used systematically to terrorize and brutalize women and girls. Eritrean soldiers are using starvation as a weapon of war. Displaced people are being rounded up, beaten, and threatened,” Lowcock told the council, according to diplomats who attended the meeting.

Ethiopia’s UN ambassador Taye Atske Selassie Amde said the Eritrean withdrawal “is a matter of sorting out some technical and procedural issues.”

“Our expectation is that they will definitely leave soon,” he told reporters after the council briefing.

Eritrea’s UN mission in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lowcock’s allegation, according to Reuters.

Eritrea said in April that it had agreed to start withdrawing its troops from Tigray.

Michael McCaul, the lead Republican congressman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, raised concerns on Wednesday over whether genocide is occurring in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

The government of Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been carrying out a military offensive against the Tigray People's Liberation Front since November.

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