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Famine in Tigray: ‘I have never documented anything as relentless & systematic as what we’re seeing’

By Patrick Smith
Posted on Friday, 9 April 2021 16:52

If the fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray does not stabilise soon, its people will face starvation and more devastation than the famine that nearly destroyed them in the 1980s, says a report just published by the World Peace Foundation.

The report, entitled: ‘How Armed Conflict and Mass Atrocities Have Destroyed an Ethiopian Region’s Economy and Food System and Are Threatening Famine’, was released on 6 April.

Since the first foray into the Tigray by the Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa back in November, the following months have seen an entirely man-made humanitarian crisis unfold.

This report documents how both Ethiopian and Eritrean elements in this Tigray war have single-handedly dismantled the region’s economic and food system.

Of all the 5.7 million people in Tigray, should the offensive continue, at least 4.5 million people will face deadly shortages of food, medicine and water, Alex de Waal, executive director of the WPF tells The Africa Report.

But this can be stopped if the majority of the Tigrayan people, many of whom are are smallholder farmers, are able to farm in time for the rains in June.

“In order for that to happen, you don’t just need to get food and medicine. You actually need to stabilise the security situation so that farmers can plant. And many of them have had their oxen stolen or slaughtered. They don’t have tools. They don’t have seeds. They need medicine to stay in their villages. And labourers need to be able to move around freely. So we need a cessation of hostilities urgently,” de Waal says.

For more on the report’s findings, we speak to Alex de Waal in this week’s podcast with Patrick Smith.

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