On Thursday 10 June, on the eve of a summit of G7 leaders in the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU) launched an urgent call for action against an outbreak of famine caused by the conflict in the Ethiopian region of Tigray.
“Famine may already be underway in some areas, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It is unacceptable “, launched the American Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during an international videoconference organized by the United States and the EU. “To avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, the entire international community must act directly and indirectly, quickly and vigorously”, argued Janez Lenarcic, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management.
The American ambassador deplored the inability of the United Nations Security Council (UN) to organize a public meeting to end the crisis. A closed-door meeting is scheduled for June 15. “We are witnessing a humanitarian nightmare […] We cannot let Ethiopia starve. We must act now ”said Mme Thomas-Greenfield, denouncing an emergency “Man-made”.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent the federal army to Tigray in November 2020 to arrest and disarm the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), party to the era in power in this region of the north of the country and which challenged the central government. He then promised a short military operation, but the fighting continues and numerous reports point to atrocities, including the widespread use of rape.
“We need everyone to mobilize”
The United Nations said more than 90% of the more than 5 million people living in Tigray were in need of emergency food aid and appealed for more than 200 million dollars (around 165 million euros). ) in order to intensify their response. “Famine is raging now in Tigray”, said Mark Lowcock, head of UN humanitarian operations: “We really need everyone to come together. ” Otherwise, “Some 30,000 severely malnourished children are at great risk of dying”, added James Elder, spokesperson for Unicef.
The United States has announced additional funding of $ 181 million for “Provide vital food, agricultural products, clean water, shelter, health care and essential services” to people in need in Tigray. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for her part, spoke on Wednesday of aid worth 250 million euros “To fight against hunger”, including 50 million euros specially allocated to the Sahel and East Africa. But the delivery of aid is blocked by the belligerents.
U.S. Agency for International Development (Usaid) director Samantha Power accused Ethiopia’s military allies of having “Burned and looted seeds and farm equipment and slaughtered oxen to ensure the fields remain fallow, so determined are they to eliminate livelihoods”. “These same forces threatened, intimidated, detained and even killed aid workers trying to feed the hungry., she added. We know what is happening in Tigray, despite the complex nature of the conflict and the Ethiopian government’s attempts to cover it up. It means doing all we can to put an end to it. “
The United States has decided to impose visa restrictions on Eritrean and Ethiopian officials accused of fueling the conflict. Washington has also announced restrictions ” in large scale “ in terms of economic and security assistance to Ethiopia. As for the EU, since December it has frozen the payment of some 90 million euros in budgetary aid to Ethiopia.