UN: 400,000 in Tigray now facing famine, nearly 2M more on the brink

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July 3 (UPI) — In Tigray, Ethiopia, 400,000 people have entered into famine conditions and nearly 2 million are on the brink, United Nations officials say, prompting renewed calls for unfettered humanitarian access.

Acting Under-Secretary-General Ramesh Rajasingham said in a briefing to the Security Council Friday more than 400,000 people are now in famine conditions with another 1.8 million in danger despite the Ethiopian government’s declaration of a ceasefire with Tigrayan rebels earlier this week.

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“Some are suggesting the numbers are even higher,” Rajasingham said. “Thirty-three thousand children are severely malnourished and, moreover, the food insecurity crisis will continue to worsen during the impending rainy season, as food supplies are exhausted, and the risk of flooding and waterborne diseases, including cholera, increases.

“Considering where we already are, this means that more people will die if we do not reach them with humanitarian assistance.”

The UN earlier this month urged armed groups to stop blocking access while forecasting that 350,000 people were at risk of famine — the most worldwide since the 2011 famine in Somalia. Conflict between government and regional forces in Tigray since November has led to the hunger crisis.

Under-Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo renewed the call for “unhindered unrestricted access,” in a tweet Friday.

She told the Security Council that 1.7 million people have been displaced in the fighting between Ethiopian troops and Tigray Defense Force, with 60,000 refugees crossing the border into Sudan.

Along with renewing calls for access, both senior U.N. officials strongly condemned targeted attacks that killed at least 12 humanitarian workers last week, a U.N. statement said.