Hunger Stalks Millions as Abiy Asks Ethiopians to Join Army

Fighting in northern Ethiopia may intensify further after the nation’s Nobel-laureate leader urged citizens to join the army and militias, which may add to the misery caused by nine months of civil war between the federal government and dissidents in the Tigray region.

About 300,000 people are facing “emergency levels of hunger” in Ethiopia’s Amhara and Afar states, where Tigrayan forces began an offensive after regaining most of their territory from government troops in June, the World Food Programme said on Monday. That’s in addition to about 5.2 million people in Tigray who’ve been impacted by the conflict and desperately need food aid.

At river where Tigrayan bodies floated, fears of ‘many more’

From time to time, a body floating down the river separating Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region from Sudan was a silent reminder of a war conducted in the shadows. But recently, the corpses became a flow.

Bloated, drained of color from their journey, the bodies were often mutilated: genitals severed, eyes gouged, a missing limb. The Sudanese fishermen who spotted them, and the refugees from Tigray who helped pull them to shore, found many corpses’ hands bound. Some of them had been shot.

The Associated Press reported dozens of bodies floating down the Tekeze River last week and saw six of the graves on Wednesday, marking the first time any reporters could reach the scene. Doctors who saw the bodies said one was tattooed with a common name in the Tigrinya language and others had the facial markings common among Tigrayans, raising fresh alarm about atrocities in the least-known area of the Tigray war.

Main road for aid to embattled Ethiopian region ‘impassible’

During a visit this week to Ethiopia, the Administrator of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) visited food warehouses outside the capital Addis Ababa run by the Catholic Relief Services, with the help of USAID.

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, denounced the “dehumanizing rhetoric” surrounding Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict, which has devastated the area.

Wednesday’s visit to Ethiopia has been welcomed by CRS’s Ethiopia country representative, Lane Bunkers.

“The compound in Adama [about 60 miles southeast of the capital] has a long history and has been in use for four decades for the purpose of storing and staging food aid, including humanitarian distributions,” he told Crux.

WFP delivers food to another 1 million people in Tigray during June and July but is only reaching half of those it should be

WFP aims to reach 2.1 million people with emergency food assistance from August onwards and needs at least 6,000 metric tons of food each week to do so. Due to insecurity and operational constraints, it has been unable to bring these quantities into Tigray in recent weeks.

More than 175 trucks arrived in the Tigray region, via the Abala corridor, during the first week of August. This included 90 trucks loaded with over 5,000 metric tons of life-saving food. An additional 90 trucks are expected to arrive in the coming days to further replenish stocks of food, fuel, nutrition, health, WASH and shelter items in the region.

But with 5.2 million people in the region (90% of the Tigray population) in need of humanitarian food assistance – WFP and partners require at least 100 trucks to be arriving daily to meet the vast needs.

“People in Tigray are suffering due to lack of humanitarian support over the past month – we need to reach them now before they fall into famine. WFP is calling for all parties to agree to a ceasefire and guarantee an unimpeded flow of humanitarian supplies into Tigray, so that we can deliver lifesaving food and other emergency supplies safely before it’s too late,” said Michael Dunford, WFP’s Corporate Response Director for Tigray. 

Sudan-Ethiopia tensions rise amid diplomatic wrangling and famine

After Sudanese efforts to help broker a ceasefire in Tigray were rejected by Ethiopia, Khartoum has recalled its ambassador to Addis Ababa.

With Sudan currently chairing the regional body Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said he was trying to “encourage all Ethiopian sides to reach a ceasefire agreement, and engage in comprehensive political talks”, in a statement released on Sunday.

Fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region began last November when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops in to defeat the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Part of the issue stems from Fashaga, the contested border region that is used by Ethiopian farmers, but claimed by Sudan.

Ceasefire in Tigray more urgent than ever: UN relief chief

Speaking in Geneva, Martin Griffiths highlighted the urgency of the situation for all those affected in the northern Ethiopian region, after eight months of fighting between Government forces and those loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Earlier this week, the UN senior official warned that 200,000 people had been displaced by fighting in neighbouring Amhara region, along with more than 50,000 in Afar.

“This war has to stop, this war has to end; we will all of us continue to try to make sure that those 100 trucks a day reach Mekelle, reach the beneficiaries”, Mr. Griffiths insisted. “We will do everything we can to help the people affected in Amhara and Afar, while continuing the work in other parts of Ethiopia.”

The war in Tigray: the makings of a man-made famine, and what can be done

“There’s famine now in Tigray.” That 10 June 2021 declaration by the UN’s most senior humanitarian official was the clearest indication yet that embattled Tigray faced a severe food emergency. Close to five million Tigrayans were subsequently  under watch for what constitutes emergency level conditions.

The affected population now falls under emergency (phase four) and famine (phase five) of the Famine Early Warning System Network classification. A famine is declared when households have an extreme lack of food even after they’ve used all available coping strategies. It’s when starvation, death, destitution, and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels are evident.

Bloomberg: U.S. Official Calls for Cease-Fire as Ethiopia Conflict Deepens

The head of the U.S Agency for International Development called for an end to hostilities and on anti-government forces to withdraw from two regions bordering Ethiopia’s war-ravaged Tigray region.

Samantha Power’s comments in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, came after the U.S. State Department reinforced its calls for Tigray forces, which have been embroiled in a nine-month conflict with the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to “withdraw its associated military forces immediately from the Amhara and Afar regions.”

The worsening conflict may scare overseas investment into Africa’s second-most populous nation just as it prepares to lure overseas telecommunications operators, as well as investors for its sugar assets. The violence has spilled into the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions as Tigray forces seek to push back against their adversaries following gains in June and July.

DW: Ethiopia – A catastrophe in the making

Thousands of people have died, around 2 million have been displaced, more than 5 million rely on emergency food aid and 400,000 are at risk of starvation. But violence in Ethiopia is growing beyond Tigray province.

In Ethiopia’s Tigray province, a lack of medical supplies, frequent power cuts and a severe fuel scarcity — not to mention a cash shortage due to closed banks, and growing unemployment after factories were shut down or looted — is making life increasingly difficult for the population, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“The humanitarian situation is very worrying and getting worse,” said Alyona Synenko, the ICRC’s spokesperson for Africa.

AFP: UN condemns ‘dangerous’ claims of bias against aid workers in Tigray

The UN’s humanitarian chief on Tuesday condemned as “dangerous” accusations by Ethiopian government officials that aid workers were biased in favour of — and even arming — rebel forces in war-hit Tigray.

Martin Griffiths also called for access to allow desperately needed aid into the region where the UN says hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from famine.

“Blanket accusations of humanitarian aid workers need to stop,” he said during a press conference at the end of a six-day visit to Ethiopia, his first mission in his new role.