The World Food Program has warned that food insecurity and hunger are on the rise in northern Ethiopia as conflict in the Tigre spread to neighboring regions.
The United Nations Food Agency reports that it has completed the first round of food distribution in the Amhara and Afar provinces of northern Ethiopia. The operation, which began in mid-August, has reached an estimated 300,000 people affected by the outbreak in its areas of conflict in Tigre.
However, the World Food Program reports distribution in the tigre is lagging. It said the trucks are stranded in the Afar region and unable to deliver enough vital supplies for the millions of Tigris citizens living in dire conditions.
A UN analysis of the severity of food insecurity in June estimated that 400,000 people in the Tigre are on the verge of famine. WFP spokesman Tomson Firi says anecdotal reports from all three conflict-affected areas suggest food shortages are on the rise.
Firi said, “In Afar and Amhara, our teams have seen hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. It is absolutely vital that we have the full cooperation and support of all parties to the conflict so that we can reach all those affected. Populated with urgently needed food aid before we face a humanitarian disaster across northern Ethiopia.”
The United Nations reports that since November, when conflict began between the Ethiopian military and the Tigre People’s Liberation Front, thousands have been killed and millions have been forcibly displaced from their homes. The United Nations says an estimated 5.2 million people, or 90 percent of the Tigre population, are in need of humanitarian aid.
Phiri says the WFP aims to reach about 3.5 million people in the three regions in the next round of food delivery. However, he acknowledges that there are many obstacles in the way of reaching that goal.
“The food pipeline in Tigre remains hand-to-mouth with many issues affecting the free movement of convoys… Additionally, most commercial trucks are unable to return from Tigre which is one of the major barriers to delivery As cargo we struggle to call the convoy,” said Phiri.
Firi notes that a total of 637 trucks have managed to reach Tigre, carrying only 11 percent of the humanitarian aid needed in the region. He says that to feed the population adequately, 100 trucks loaded with life-saving supplies must arrive in the beleaguered province every day.