Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.
Starvation is being used as a weapon of war against civilians in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and immediate United States action is crucial, said the Washington Post Editorial Board on Tuesday.
“This humanitarian catastrophe, which U.N. officials say could rival the epic Ethiopian famine of 1984 if not arrested, is a deliberate result of the military campaign waged in Tigray since late last year by the government of Abiy Ahmed and the allied Eritrean regime of Isaias Afwerki,” said the Washington Post.
The Washington Post joins many prominent countries and international organizations, including the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, in exposing the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Tigray, and calling on the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments to cooperate with humanitarian efforts to reach the region.
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According to multiple reports, “the forces of the two governments have burned farmers’ fields and stores and slaughtered or stolen livestock. They have also systematically blocked aid deliveries to the parts of Tigray not under government control.”
Since the violent conflict started in Tigray seven months ago, reports have indicated ethnic cleansing, rape as a weapon of war, mass executions, forced displacements, and other widespread human rights abuses.
Millions have been forced to flee their homes and the severe damage that has been done to communities and food supplies has contributed to regional instability and food insecurity.
While Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed claimed in March that Eritrean troops would be withdrawing from Tigray, they remain in the region today.
Despite mounting pressure from the international community, Abiy Ahmed has dismissed pleas to cease hostilities in Tigray so that the region, which is suffering from widespread food shortages, can be reached with humanitarian aid.
Rather than cooperating with efforts to prioritize the well-being of civilians in Tigray, many report that Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have been destroying infrastructure, destabilizing communities, and blocking humanitarian aid.
The United Nation’s top humanitarian official, Mark Lowcock, said that food is being used as a weapon of war in Tigray and accused Eritrean forces of “trying to deal with the Tigrayan population by starving them.”
According to the United Nations, “The number of people in famine conditions … is higher than anywhere in the world, at any moment since a quarter million Somalis lost their lives in 2011.”
More than 350,000 people in Tigray are currently suffering famine conditions and millions more are at risk, says the United Nations.