UK announces extra £29m of humanitarian aid for Ethiopia

UK announces extra £29m of humanitarian aid for Ethiopia

Fears grow over effect of government blockade on worsening food, water and energy situation

A volunteer delivers aid to villagers in Debark, Ethiopia. The UN estimates that 5.5 million people in the north of the country face acute food insecurity. Photograph: J Countess/Getty Images

(Theguardian)—The UK has announced an extra £29m of humanitarian aid to people affected by the deepening conflict in northern Ethiopia, as the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, reviews what kind of further pressure can be placed on the new Ethiopian government to open up badly needed humanitarian corridors.

The UK has provided more than £75m to alleviate the risk of famine – making it the second largest aid donor to Ethiopia – but officials acknowledge the de facto government blockade of Tigray is deepening the crisis.

The UK’s special envoy for famine prevention and humanitarian affairs, Nick Dyer, has just visited the Tigray capital of Mekelle and came away struck by the extent to which the food, water and energy crisis was worsening.

The UN has estimated Tigray needs 500 trucks of critical assistance each week, but less than 10% of this has been met since June. The shortfall is due to a lack of fuel, trucks and assurances about safe passage for truck drivers who have been subject to harassment and demands to pay bribes by the Ethiopian government.

The UN estimates 5.5 million people face acute food insecurity, including 400,000 people in northern Ethiopia facing famine-like conditions – more than in all of the humanitarian crises in the rest of the world combined. The UK government is convinced that this is entirely a human-made crisis caused by the territorial and sovereignty conflict.

Dyer said: “On my third visit to Ethiopia since the start of the Tigray conflict, I saw a further deterioration of the crisis and the conditions for humanitarian operations. The conflict in northern Ethiopia has spread beyond the borders of Tigray now, so we are expanding UK funding to reach those in urgent need in Afar and Amhara.”

An African Union initiative to install a ceasefire is making little progress, with Tigray forces refusing to engage, due partly to scepticism about the neutrality of the Nigerian-led mediation. UK diplomatic sources have for months been pressing the government in Addis Ababa to allow aid into the region, but have been told that a response was not possible until the new government was installed, something that happened this week.

Muferiat Kamil, the powerful minister for peace, was demoted in a reshuffle after three years in office, but it is not yet clear if that presages a change in policy. The prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, once a poster child for development in Africa, has not suffered politically by adopting a tough line against those in Tigray claiming independence but he is under growing international pressure.

In September, the US president, Joe Biden, issued an executive order that allows for sanctions on parties “complicit in prolonging” the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. The US could remove Ethiopia’s privileges under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a move that could hit the country’s economy severely. Ethiopia says the deal is worth £237m annually.

The UN human rights office is due to publish a report into human rights abuses on 1 November, which could lead to further international sanctions.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front pushed into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions in July, a move it said was intended to stop government forces from regrouping and break what it calls a humanitarian siege of Tigray.

The funding will be delivered by UN agencies and NGOs, including the World Food Programme, Unicef, and the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund. Lifesaving nutrition treatment is expected to be delivered for more than 100,000 malnourished children, and 27,000 pregnant and new mothers.

The UK’s ambassador for human rights, Rita French, raised the urgent need for unfettered humanitarian access at the Human Rights Council earlier this month and the former foreign secretary raised the UK’s concerns over the conflict in a call with prime minister Abiy in August.

Nightmare in Ethiopia As Millions Starve – Opinion

Nightmare in Ethiopia As Millions Starve | Opinion

Both sides in Ethiopia’s civil war must stop the violence and allow food aid to reach everyone in need. Michael Dunford of the U.N. World Food Program pleaded, “It is absolutely vital that we have the full cooperation and support of all parties to the conflict so that we can reach all affected populations with urgently needed food assistance before we have a humanitarian catastrophe on our hands across all of northern Ethiopia

The hunger crisis in Ethiopia also extends beyond the northern conflict zone in Tigray. People have fled to the Afar and Amhara regions and need food assistance. Ethiopia is also suffering from drought, flooding, desert locust invasions, high food prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. All these tragedies have come at once and are contributing to a massive countrywide hunger emergency.

The World Food Program (WFP) said nearly 12 million people need food aid throughout Ethiopia. WFP does not have enough resources right now to provide relief in Ethiopia. The WFP said, “For all activities under its Country Strategic Plan, WFP has a funding shortfall of US$426 million. Additional funding is vital to allow WFP to keep saving and changing lives in Ethiopia.”

The 1984 Newsweek article emphasized the importance of taking action before it’s too late. Famine conditions don’t leave much time for those at risk. Donations must be timely to keep the pipeline of food moving. This must happen today in Ethiopia to save lives.

A WFP food distribution area in the Afar region of Ethiopia where civilians have fled the fighting in Tigray. More funding is needed to keep up with the growing humanitarian crisis.CLAIRE NEVILL/WFP

Also, as was the case in 1984, there are multiple African nations facing severe hunger including South SudanBurkina Faso and Madagascar. Donors will need to step up to ensure there is enough food supplies to prevent famine. Everyone can help by donating to WFP, Save the Children, CARE, UNICEF and other relief agencies feeding the hungry in Ethiopia. You can write to your representative in Congress asking them to support food aid for Ethiopia.

The USDA McGovern-Dole program and WFP are partnering to provide school meals in parts of Ethiopia, including the Afar region. These meals are a lifeline for hungry children, giving them the strength to stay in school.

Children and mothers are at risk of malnutrition after fleeing the conflict in Tigray to camps like this one at Um Rakuba in Sudan.JOOST BASTMEIJER/WFP/ARETE

Children in Ethiopia are going to need school meals, including those who have been displaced by the conflict. We should boost funding for McGovern-Dole and other food aid programs so they can help more children.

The world cannot turn away from Africa’s new nightmare of famine and war. Failure to act will cost lives. We must bring food and peace to the starving people of Ethiopia now.

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the U.N. World Food Program on the book Ending World Hunger. His writings have been published by The New York TimesHistory News NetworkNewsweek and many other outlets.

Viewpoint: Why Ethiopia’s Tigray region is starving, but no famine declared

Viewpoint: Why Ethiopia’s Tigray region is starving, but no famine declared

By Alex de Waal

Despite mass starvation occurring in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, senior international aid officials are tiptoeing around declaring a famine nearly a year after the civil war erupted.

Warning: Some people may find a photo in this story upsetting.

(bbc)—A report from Ayder Referral hospital in Tigray’s capital city, Mekelle, this week described children dying of starvation.

The doctors provided photographs of small children suffering from acute malnutrition, their ribs and swollen bellies evidence of their plight. Those are the lucky ones as there is still a few weeks’ supply of emergency therapeutic food at the hospital.

In Tigray’s villages, the situation is grave. The war started last November and just two months later, the Catholic bishop of Adigrat described people perishing of hunger.

Families who arrive in Mekelle after trekking for days on foot describe trying to survive on a diet of leaves and roots for weeks.

This is one of the malnourished children being treated at Ayder Hospital this week

The director of Ayder Hospital, Dr Hayelom Kebede, tells how his nurses arrive at work with only a small bag of roasted grain to eat for the whole day. Their own children are malnourished. Because banks have been closed since June, staff have gone four months without salaries. Even as cash dries up, the prices of essentials shoots up.

More than 20% of displaced children were acutely malnourished in August. A recent survey reported by the UN indicated 79% of pregnant and nursing mothers were in the same state. These are levels rarely seen in modern times, comparable to the 2011 Somali famine that claimed more than 250,000 lives.

‘Famine-like conditions’

In the months after the war broke out, the data and maps provided by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) show a steadily deteriorating humanitarian crisis, culminating in the estimate of 400,000 people being in phase five of the UN-backed Integrated food security Phase Classification (IPC) system. Phase five is “catastrophe” or, when certain criteria for the threshold of populations in specific areas are met, “famine”.

This is the basis of the oft-repeated statement that 400,000 people are in “famine-like conditions”. Meanwhile the great majority of Tigray’s six million people are in need of emergency aid.

In June, the UN activated the Famine Review Committee (FRC), an independent group of food security experts, to assess the available evidence from Tigray. Its report made projections for what would unfold over the coming months, with four possible scenarios depending on the scale of fighting and the level of humanitarian aid.

Its worst-case scenario has come to pass: the war has escalated and there is only a trickle of humanitarian aid – less than 10% of needs – along with a near-complete shutdown in the economy with banks closed and essential supplies blocked. The committee assessed the risk of full-scale famine on this scenario as “medium to high” before the end of September and “high” after that.

In its dry, technical language, the FRC report was a call for emergency action – not only a massive humanitarian aid effort but also intensified information gathering so that the agencies know what to supply, where and to whom.

Indeed the FRC devotes whole pages of recommendations to data gathering and analysis, including weekly monitoring, regular analysis updates, and another full assessment within three months.

None of this has happened. In fact, the few international aid workers permitted to travel to Tigray are not allowed to take secure communications equipment or even USB drives, and their smartphones are searched for pictures on their return.

In previous Ethiopian famines, it was journalists who broke the news. Jonathan Dimbleby reported on the “unknown famine” in 1973. A BBC crew with Michael Buerk and Mohamed Amin revealed the 1984 famine, which the then-military government was trying to conceal. Today’s government has kept all journalists out of Tigray.

Aid convoy row

In June, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told the BBC: “There is no hunger in Tigray.” Reflecting the sensibilities of the government, the official language of the UN is that famine may be “in prospect soon” and that people may “start to die” for lack of food.

Priest Tiftu Ejigu says his wife and daughter were killed by Tigrayan fighters at a church in the Amhara region, charges the rebels deny

The Ethiopian government says that responsibility for the crisis lies with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party of the region which it has declared a terrorist organisation.

It accuses Tigrayan fighters of advancing into the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar and creating humanitarian crises there. Indeed, the UN reports that about a million people in those regions need emergency aid, half of them displaced by fighting – though BBC fact-checkers have found that images on social media purporting to show starvation there are in fact from other places and other times.

There are also reliable reports that the advancing Tigrayan forces have requisitioned food and medicine supplies.

The government also says that the Tigrayan advances have blocked humanitarian access routes. However, there hasn’t been any fighting on the main road used by aid convoys from the Afar city of Semera, while aid agencies attribute insecurity to government-aligned militia.

It also says that the reason why so few trucks are able to travel to Tigray is that those who arrive are commandeered by the TPLF for its war effort. Fact-checking by the BBC shows this is not supported by evidence – the aid trucks are stranded in Tigray because fuel supplies have run out.

The government blames the food crisis on a locust infestation last year and points out that a million people needed aid before the war began.

In fact, it was the TPLF’s defeat of the Ethiopian army in Tigray in June that made it possible for farmers there to plant crops and aid agencies to travel unobstructed within the region.

The problems of humanitarian access are not within Tigray – but getting there in the first place.

UN officials are increasingly explicit that it is the government policy of blockading the region that is the root of the problem.

On 29 September, Ocha head Martin Griffiths said: “This is man-made; this can be remedied by the act of government.” Two days later, the Ethiopian government expelled seven senior UN officials, accusing them of “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs.

In an open session of the UN Security Council, UN chief António Guterres condemned the expulsions and explained that they violated the terms of the UN’s agreement with Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian representative to the UN, Taye Atske Selassie, then made a series of allegations that UN staff were TPLF sympathisers and, in a step almost without precedent, Mr Guterres took to the floor a second time to challenge him to provide evidence, saying that he had personally spoken twice with Mr Abiy on the topic, without the prime minister providing details to back up the allegations.

Mr Griffiths’ predecessor at Ocha, Mark Lowcock, has been more candid since his retirement in June. Last week he was asked by PBS Newshour, “Is the Ethiopian government trying to starve Tigray?” He answered simply: “Yes.”

Mr Lowcock continued: “There’s not just an attempt to starve six million people but an attempt to cover up what’s going on.”

There is no question that Tigrayans are starving. But because there are no nutrition and mortality surveys of the type that are standard in such emergencies, the UN is hesitating to call it a famine. That is a technical nicety that is increasingly difficult to defend.

Speaking at the G7 summit in June, US special envoy Jeff Feltman warned, we “should not wait to count the graves” before declaring the crisis in Tigray what it is: a famine. That was a warning. Without immediate action it will be a forecast, and a verdict.

The question is no longer whether there is famine in Tigray, but how many people will starve to death before it is stopped.

Alex de Waal is the executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in the US.

Oromo Liberation Front Press Release – October 15, 2021

Oromo Liberation Front Press Release – October 15, 2021

The Government of Dr Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party are Responsible for continued Cold Blood Murders of Oromo Civilians in East Wallaga – Oromia.

OLF Press Release – October 15, 2021

The OLF was strongly denouncing the repeated massacres of Oromo civilians by the central government budgeted Amhara Special Forces (aka Amhara Militias). Although using ethnic conflict as a political tool is a common policy of Ethiopian ruling system, the extent and frequency of the current conflicts are extremely high. It is to be remembered that the Amhara Militias had been deployed to Oromia and Benishangul_Gumuz Regions several times on their own as well as in coordination with Federal Forces and the Eritrean armed forces. To mention some of the recent ones: in the months of March and April 2021, large number Amhara Militias armed with heavy weapons opened fire on Oromo residents in East Wallagga in places known as Wast, Siredoro, Hagamsa, and Haroo/ Lalisee towns and they killed many Oromo civilians. At the same time, many Battalions of Eritreans were deployed to Metekel Zone, Benishangul Gumuz and East/West Oromia regions including Qellam Wallaga and West Wallaga Zones, Shashamane, Guji and Borana Zones and committed many killings.

Particularly the civilian killings increased sharply since Dr Abiy Ahmed vowed in public that he would deploy Amhara Militias to restore law and order in other regions of Ethiopia and his deputy PM, Demeke Mekonnen, highlighted providing firearms and training to the Amhara people to “defend themselves,” implicitly to realize their territorial expansion project to other regions. To the contrary, it is observable truth that the Oromo people had no right to have firearms and had been confiscated all sort of implements including machetes they use for farming and even banned from holding sticks that is a traditional way of life for Oromo men. This clearly indicated that this is intended not only undermining other regional polices but giving vital role to the Amhara militias that is being used to destabilize other peoples.

Although Amhara Militias massacring civilians repeatedly happened in Oromia, the OLF is immensely shocked by this round of brutal massacres of Oromo Civilians in East Wallagga in the last three days. According to the information we received, in the last two days (October 10 and 12, 2021), 40 Oromo civilians were murdered in cold blood in East Wallagga alone. On 10 October 2021, 25 Oromo civilians were brutally murdered by heavily armed Amhara Militias in Haro District of East Wallagga. The civilians were killed in extreme cruelty including massacre of nine people in one place. Out of the twenty-five victims twenty had their throats slit opened, and five were gun shot. Fourteen of the bodies have now been eaten by stray dogs as the gunmen refused to allow burial. We have received the details of eighteen people out of twenty-five killed in Haro District. According to the information the age range of the victims were 12 to 70 years old. Eight are Female and ten are male. Similarly, on 12 October 2021, 15 Oromo civilians were massacred by Amhara Militias in districts of Kiramu and Guto Gidda in a town called Luugoo, East Wallagga. These include the former Luugoo town administrator aged 55 years old; 60 years old man a father of five children; 70 years old woman and 17 years old young person.

In addition, in separate incident, the recently discovered bodies in Borana Zone are shocking news. According to the report issued by Prisoners’ Rights Campaigners on 13 October 2021, two Oromo young civilians known as Boruu Guyyoo and Derejjee Biraanu had been taken out of the Hiddi Lolaa Prison, in Miyo district of Borana and killed in cold blood by the PP soldiers and buried in unknown place. After long time searches by the victims’ families, the bodies of the two Oromo civilians were recovered on 13 October 2021.

OLF would like to express its condolences to their families that might have been affected by this brutal Massacre of Amhara Militias and PP soldiers. In addition, we want to make clear that the identities of the victims that were not known so far would be verified at the right time. The OLF strongly condemn these expanding brutal acts of terror by the PP government soldiers and its appendage Amhara Militias that is creating havoc throughout the country.

We would like to express our deep concern that Dr. Abiy Government’s actions of intensifying ethnic conflicts for political objective will lead to catastrophic ethnic genocide and put the country and the region in irreversible danger.

Therefore:

1. We call for independent investigation into these Massacres of East Wallaga regions so that it will be clear to the Ethiopian peoples as well as to the international community.

2. We inform the Ethiopian peoples and the international community that Dr. Abiy’s government and his prosperity party should be accountable for all the lives lost due to inflaming ethnic conflicts and should refrain from future atrocities that might happen due to actions of his ill motivated partial Government of Prosperity Party.

3. We would like to strongly remind the Oromia citizens that you do not have a government to protect you. OLF was informing you this for long time. Lack of Oromia regional governance exposed it to invasion by other regional forces, namely, Amhara regional government militia. The Amhara regional state as a core of ruling property party is supported by Central Government of Dr. Abiy that repeatedly deployed Militias to break the Oromo people’ lives. Thus, we would like to remind the Oromo people again that you must strengthen the Oromia Regional State National Transitional Government and protect yourself from regional invasion and restore peace and security in your region.

4. We continue to urge the international community to take practical actions using all tools available to pressure the Government of Dr. Abiy to respect human rights, and refrain from inciting genocide between nations and nationalities that would have catastrophic outcome for Ethiopian peoples and detrimental impact on peace and security in the region.

5. We also ask the international community to urge Dr. Abiy to abide by the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Republic constitution, and respect national, regional, and international laws on human rights and people’s rights.

In conclusion, the OLF requests the Amhara Regional Government to immediately withdraw Amhara Militias from Oromia regions as continuation such irresponsible actions will have more grave consequences for the people it claims to represent.

Victory to the Masses!

Oromo Liberation Front

October 15, 2021

Finfinnee

In Borona zone of Oromia, the Ethiopian military executed three Oromo youth

የኦነግ መግለጫ በኪራሙ የጅምላ ፍጅት ላይ


In Borona zone of Oromia, the Ethiopian military executed three Oromo youth- two in one spot and another in Miyo District, a different area. In Kiramu District of East Wallaga zone, the Amhara government military crossed border and massacred over 20 Oromo civilians and vowed to kill more.