Famine in Amhara and Tigray: Malnutrition in Ethiopia

Famine in Amhara and Tigray: Malnutrition in Ethiopia

Kanako Mita and Noriko Watanabe

Modern Tokyo Times

Levels of malnutrition among children in Afar, Amhara, and Oromia vary between 15% and 47% in Ethiopia. These statistics were expressed by the Ethiopian Nutrition Cluster (co-ordinated by the Federal Government and the U.N. Children’s Fund).

In Tigray, where several hundred people died from starvation in the town of Edaga Arbi, malnutrition among internally displaced children is 26.5%.

In November, deaths from starvation occurred in Yechila (Tigray) and Wag Hemra (Amhara).

The Ethiopia Observer reports, “Due to the ongoing conflict in the Amhara region, the team of experts was unable to conduct in-person assessments. However, data collected via phone indicates that more than 1.8 million people are at risk due to drought in the region.”

AP News reports, “The U.N. and the U.S. paused food aid to Tigray in March last year after discovering a ‘large-scale’ scheme to steal humanitarian grain. The suspension was rolled out to the rest of Ethiopia in June.”

Reuters says, “Regional and federal government officials as well as Eritrean soldiers were involved in the theft of food aid in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region…”

The World Food Program and USAID have resumed aid but at a reduced level.

Regional grievances and tensions in Amhara, Tigray, and other parts of Ethiopia need to be addressed by the central government rather than the military option – and pitting ethnic groups against each other. However, it appears that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia is focused on power concentration -backed by the armed forces and other areas of the state apparatus.

ABC News says, “Nearly 400 people have died of starvation in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Amhara regions in recent months, the country’s ombudsman said Tuesday, a rare admission of hunger-related deaths by a federal body.”

The federal government stipulated many times that starvation deaths were not happening and that political opponents of Abiy were seeking political capital by overplaying the crisis. Hence, the real death toll is likely higher – given the number of internally displaced people in Amhara and Tigray.

The BBC reports, “What is particularly disturbing is that this crisis is unfolding so early in the season. The main harvest in Tigray and neighboring Amhara is in November, and this is the time of year when food should be most plentiful.”

Regional authorities in Tigray said that 3.5 million need humanitarian assistance. This figure is for people who will need support throughout the year.

Lee Jay Walker says, “Despite famine in parts of Amhara and Tigray, the armed forces of Ethiopia continue to use drone strikes and other military means against Fano and Amhara militias. This is worsening the crisis on the ground and putting enormous strains on people trying to survive from food shortages – and suffering from other consequences of displacement.”

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