by The Chicago Times Staff

June 26, 2021

MEKELLE — Even though the prime minister claims there is “no hunger” in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the US estimates that up to 900,000 people are now facing famine conditions due to a deadly conflict.

The famine in Tigray is the world’s worst in a decade, and the new famine findings are “terrifying,” according to Samantha Power, the head of the United States Agency for International Development, who added that millions more people are at risk.

Even as reports of people starving to death emerge, the true number of people facing famine is unknown due to active fighting and access restrictions preventing aid workers from entering the region.

According to the new USAID analysis conditions will deteriorate in the coming months, particularly as Tigray enters the lean season from July to September.

Residents of Tigray and some observers have described the situation as “forced starvation.”

Since the conflict erupted in November, witnesses have described Ethiopian soldiers, backed by soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, preventing them from planting their fields or having their crops looted or burned.

Even as its troops pursue the region’s former leaders after political tensions erupted into war, Ethiopia’s government claims to have delivered food aid to millions of people in Tigray.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2019, expressed concern that outside aid to Tigray might end up supporting the Tigray fighters, recalling a similar situation during Ethiopia’s devastating famine in the 1980s.  The prime minister told the BBC this week that there is no hunger in Tigray.

The new famine warning adds to international pressure on Ethiopia’s government to call a cease-fire, especially after an Ethiopian military airstrike on a busy market in Tigray this week.