Members of the UN Security Council have warned of a famine currently affecting 400,000 people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. A further 1.8 million have been deemed at risk of starvation whilst 33,000 children are currently suffering from severe malnourishment.
Following six previous private talks, the UN Security Council held its first public meeting on the conflict on 2 July, eight months after the conflict broke out between government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The UN’s Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, Ramesh Rajasingham, told present members at the meeting the situation in Tigray had declined significantly in recent weeks. Rajasingham also said Tigray is currently experiencing “the worst famine situation we have seen in decades”, identifying “Close to 5.2 million people still [requiring] humanitarian assistance – the great majority of them women and children.”
On 28 June, the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire, although the UN continues to caution of the possibility of further clashes as rebels vow to remove their ‘enemies’ from the region. UN political and peacebuilding affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo said “there is potential for more confrontations and a swift deterioration in the security situation, which is extremely concerning.”
The American ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield has said the Ethiopian government must show “it truly intends to use the ceasefire to address the humanitarian catastrophe,” and any attempt to block aid access to the region is “not an indication of a humanitarian ceasefire, but of a siege.” The Ethiopian government has previously denied accusations of blocking aid following rebel gains in the northern region this month. The Ethiopian ambassador to the United Nations, Taye Atske Selassie Made, gave reports saying the ceasefire “is not to make a siege, it is to save lives.”