The United Nations in its latest humanitarian update said it is receiving reports of “rising hunger” in Tigray and cited a “dire lack of access to food” since many farmers in the largely agricultural region missed the harvest because of the fighting, and as “critical staff” to scale up the humanitarian response cannot access the region. “We are gravely concerned by credible reports that hundreds of thousands of people may starve to death if urgent humanitarian assistance is not mobilized immediately,” the statement said.
The US is also seeking an immediate end to the fighting in Tigray and “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” to the region, which remains largely cut off from the outside world, with Ethiopian forces often accompanying aid. The US statement added that “dialogue is essential between the government and Tigrayans”.
Ethiopia’s government has rejected dialogue with the former Tigray leaders, seeing them as illegitimate, and has appointed an interim administration.
The former Tigray leaders, in turn, objected to Ethiopia delaying a national election last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and considered Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s mandate over.
The U.S. stance has shifted dramatically from the early days of the conflict when the Trump administration praised Eritrea for its “restraint.” The statement reflects new pressure by the Biden administration on the government of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country with 114 million people as the deadly fighting in Tigray nears the three-month mark.