U.S. discusses worsening humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region with Vatican

The United States and the Vatican on Sunday discussed the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the Biden administration said in a statement.

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The U.S. State Department said the discussions took place when Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with the heads of the Rome-Based Food Security Agencies in Rome, including UN World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Qu Dongyu

Secretary Antony J. Blinken participates in a virtual U.S. Embassy London meet and greet, in London, United Kingdom, on May 4, 2021. State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha
Secretary Antony J. Blinken participates in a virtual U.S. Embassy London meet and greet, in London, United Kingdom, on May 4, 2021. State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

“Secretary Blinken affirmed the importance of combating global hunger as well as addressing the main drivers of hunger. They discussed collaboration on the COVID-19 response, the climate crisis, the humanitarian emergency in Tigray, and the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit,” State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in his statement.

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The Pre-Summit gathering for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit will take place in Rome, Italy, from July 19 to July 21, 2021, while the summit itself will be held at the UN headquarters in New York later this year.

The discussions come just two days after the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power said the number of people facing famine in Tigray has gone from 350,000 to about 900,000, even as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has claimed “there is no hunger in Tigray.”

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“We now believe up to 900,000 people are facing famine conditions, with millions more at risk,” said Power via Twitter. “PM Abiy said this week “there is no hunger in Tigray.” This is false: critical aid is being blocked & prevented from saving lives.”

On Friday, the Biden administration said the United States and France are working together with their African partners to tackle the humanitarian and human crises in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

The government said when French President Emmanuel Macron met with the United States Secretary of States Antony Blinken in Paris on Friday to discuss a range of issues, including their shared commitments to Transatlantic security and the NATO Alliance, they also took time to go over the Ethiopian crisis, the U.S. State Department said.

“They discussed efforts underway with African and other partners to address the humanitarian and human rights crises in Tigray,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and others have called on Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to allow humanitarian access to the region and for Eritrean troops to leave Ethiopia but so far those efforts have not been successful.

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