United States to provide $181 million in emergency food assistance to three million people starving in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power announced on Wednesday that the United States will be providing more than $181 million to deliver life-saving food, agricultural supplies, safe drinking water, shelter, health care, and essential services to protect the most vulnerable in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where a worsening humanitarian catastrophe threatens millions of civilians.

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“This urgently needed humanitarian aid will address life-threatening hunger and acute malnutrition by providing nearly 100,000 metric tons of food—enough to feed three million people for nearly two months—as well as seeds, tools, and fertilizers for farmers to replant crops intentionally destroyed by armed actors,” USAID said in a statement. “In addition, USAID will help protect the most vulnerable with safe spaces and psychosocial support for women and girls, case management for survivors of gender-based violence, training for social workers and community case workers, and programs to reunite children separated from their families.”

The United States is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance for the Tigray response, contributing nearly $487 million since the crisis began.

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USAID said the already dire situation in Tigray is deteriorating at alarming speed, and as a result of the conflict, nearly 90 percent of Tigray’s population —as many as 5.2 million people—need urgent assistance.

“USAID experts report that food scarcity in Tigray may already rise to the level of famine, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Communities are starving, and the number of malnourished children is increasing each week. These conditions will continue to worsen without vast improvements in humanitarian access, an immediate ceasefire, and an end to the systematic atrocities being committed against civilian populations by armed actors,” the agency said.

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The announcement comes the same day the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the U.S. Agency for International Development announced that the United States and European Union will hold a high-level meeting Thursday to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

“U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power is co-hosting an event with the European Union focused on the humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, and the need for a strong international response to meet urgent humanitarian needs and prevent further atrocities, including widespread sexual and gender-based violence,” USAID said in a statement.

Approximately 5.2 million out of 6 million people —or some 90% of the population in Tigray—are in need of assistance because of the ongoing conflict and efforts by armed actors to delay and prevent food and other critical supplies from reaching vulnerable populations.

“Despite continuous calls for immediate and unfettered humanitarian access the delivery of assistance remains restricted, and violence against civilians as wells as destruction of hospitals, schools and religious buildings continues,” said a release from the European Union.

The United States and European Union have been vocal in condemning reported human rights violations in Tigray and calling for a cessation of hostilities and complete withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Ethiopia in order to provide humanitarian assistance to the region.

However, the international community seems to be growing increasingly impatient as the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have not been cooperative with humanitarian efforts.

According to the United Nations World Food Program, over 90 percent of people in Tigray are in need of emergency food aid and there is a looming risk of famine of dramatic proportions.

Thursday’s publicly broadcasted roundtable meeting will feature prominent American diplomats including the United States representative to the UN, USAID Administrator, and Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa. The meeting will also welcome the EU Commissioners for both Crisis Management and International Partnerships as well as the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

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