More than 90 percent of people in Ethiopia’s troubled northern Tigray region need emergency food aid, the United Nations said Tuesday, as it appealed for $203 million to scale up its response.
The UN’s World Food Program said it was alarmed at how the conflict had increased already-high levels of hunger in Tigray.
“A total of 5.2 million people, equivalent to 91 percent of Tigray’s population, need emergency food assistance due to the conflict,” WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri told reporters in Geneva.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops into Tigray in November to detain and disarm leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s former ruling party.
He said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.
Though he vowed the conflict would be brief, more than six months later fighting continues, reports of atrocities are proliferating, and many leaders are warning of a potential humanitarian catastrophe.
The WFP said it had provided emergency aid to more than a million people since it started distributions in northwestern and southern areas of Tigray in March.
“WFP is alarmed at the impact of conflict on already high levels of hunger,” said Phiri.
“We are deeply concerned at the number of people we see in need of nutrition support and emergency food assistance.
“The WFP is calling for $203 million [166 million euros] to continue to scale up its response in Tigray to save lives and livelihoods through to the end of the year.”