The United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the United Nations has warned famine is imminent in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and the country’s north.
UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward told reporters in New York on Tuesday there is a risk that hundreds of thousands of people or more will die. She noted the economy has been destroyed along with crops and farms.
“It’s clear that food, agricultural tools and livestock are being destroyed. And as a result, 350,000 people in Tigray are facing hunger on a scale not seen since the famine in Somalia,” Woodward said.
“We would welcome a discussion that would look at support of African-led solutions and, working with regional initiatives to bring this crisis to an end.”
She pledged a further 16.7 million pounds ($23.6m) in UK government aid for Ethiopia.
No one knows how many thousands of civilians or combatants have been killed since months of political tensions between Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray leaders, who once dominated Ethiopia’s government, exploded into war last November.
Eritrea, a longtime Tigray enemy, teamed up with neighbouring Ethiopia in the conflict.
“While the violence continues, it is not only condemning the people of Tigray to desperate hunger this year, but next year too. Millions of people’s lives hang in the balance.
“The solution is clear – a ceasefire, humanitarian access, and political dialogue … Without a ceasefire, this could become a man-made famine,” Woodward warned.