(Source:World Peace Foundation, Foreword by Helen Clark, April 6, 2021) –
How armed conflict and mass atrocities have destroyed an Ethiopian region’s economy and food system and are threatening famine.
A report by World Peace Foundation accuses “the coalition of Ethiopian Federal forces, Amhara regional forces, and Eritrean troops are committing starvation crimes on large scale,” in Tigray.
“The calamitous humanitarian dimensions of the conflict in Tigray are becoming painfully clear. The international community must respond quickly and effectively now to save many hundreds of thousands of lives.” Hunger and acute malnutrition are causing deaths of 50 – 100 deaths a day “is credible,” the report says.
“The human tragedy which has unfolded in Tigray is a man-made disaster. Reports of mass atrocities there are heart breaking, as are those of starvation crimes. There has been wanton destruction of health facilities and food supplies; pillaging of essential services, including of industries which provided employment to tens of thousands of people; and the obstruction of essential relief to desperate people. Starvation is being used as a weapon of war.”
“This report does not go into legal details, but we believe that accountability for mass starvation crimes should follow.”
Although the authors admit that information is incomplete, because journalists and aid workers are unable to visit large parts of Tigray they conclude that the armed forces are “deliberately causing starvation” and that the available data is “extremely alarming”, “pointing to a massive crisis.”
Since 22 March this year, aid agencies report that they have had improved access to Tigray and that some supplies have been transported into the region. But areas under the Tigray Defence Force are still all but impossible to reach. This has meant that emergency relief supplies have only reached approximately 1 million of the 4.5 million people in need.
The study points out that since the outbreak of the fighting in 04 November 2020 the food security has deteriorated very rapidly. They quote the Famine Early Warning System’s prediction that by May 2021 large parts of Tigray will be in a Phase 4 crisis. It is just one step below a formal famine and lives will be lost.
Families have been deprived of their means of survival by a range of measures inflicted upon them by the invading forces. These include looting, the theft of livestock and cattle and the destruction of crops.
The report added that the damage inflicted on factories across Tigray, which have meant that families cannot supplement their incomes by wages. Banks too have been destroyed and records lost or frozen. This has left 400,000 households unable to access their savings.
In a forward to the report the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, says that the fighting must stop to allow the humanitarian agencies to reach the people in need. Presently there is little hope of this plea being answered.
The report concludes that “the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea are starving the people of Tigray.”
Read the full report: Starving Tigray Report 06 April 2021