This circular mainly addresses the famine in Tigray, as now officially confirmed by the UN humanitarian chief (section 1). Hopefully the upgraded version of our Atlas of the Humanitarian Situation will be helpful for the aid workers (section 2). Further, this circular holds a digest of articles in the media (section 3) and opinion pieces (section 4).
Unfortunately, as we foresaw already back in November, there is famine now in Tigray, confirmed by IPC as well as by UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock. It is higher than any famine anywhere in the world since 2011! In different areas of Tigray, a total of 350,000 people are affected by famine. This is actively denied by the Ethiopian government.
However, in a bid to cast a sharp light on the humanitarian emergency in Tigray on the eve of the G7 Summit, a high-level EU-US roundtable was held on 10 June too, for which the IPC report was not to be doubted. Listen to the interventions at the US-EU High-Level Roundtable on the humanitarian emergency in Tigray, by Lowcock and other major speakers who have been following the Tigray crisis from the beginning: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/us-aid. Participants were: the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Special envoy to the Horn Jeff Feltman, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, USAID administrator Samantha Power, UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock, SecGen Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland, and UN Special representative on Sexual Violence in conflict Pramila Patten.
During this roundtable discussion, Lowcock said that the famine in Tigray is going to get a lot worse. A major problem is that aid workers are often prevented access to the areas where the people most in need of aid are living. The UN has recorded 131 incidents of access violation in May 2021, out of which 50 by Eritrean troops, 54 by Ethiopian troops, 4 jointly by Ethiopians and Eritrean troops, 21 by Amhara Special Forces and militias and 1 by Tigray Defence Forces.
The speakers and in particular, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, USAID administrator Samantha Power and Mark Lowcock, expressed their strong frustration at the inaction of the UNSC. Ireland has again requested that the UNSC discusses Tigray. There are indications that a discussion will take place again on 15 June, although the format of the discussion is not yet known.
UN officially claims that aid distributions have reached 2.8 million people. Privately, according to Alex De Waal on BBC, the humanitarian workers say that is far too rosy. Independent estimates are that just 13% (670,000) of the 5.2 million people in need are getting aid.
Related opinion pieces
- Alex De Waal: Steal, Burn, Rape, Kill – Alex de Waal on Ethiopia’s new famine
- Ewelina Ochab: Ethiopia On The Brink Of Famine
- Conversation with Mukesh Kapila
Related media articles
- Associated Press, 11 June: In Tigray, food is often a weapon of war as famine looms
- BBC, 11 June: Ethiopia’s Tigray crisis: UN aid chief says there is famine
- Reuters, 11 June: About 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray in famine -U.N. analysis
- Deutsche Welle, 11 June: UN says 350,000 face famine in Tigray, millions in danger
- ONU Info, 10 June: Tigré : l’ONU réclame un accès immédiat à la province éthiopienne pour distribuer l’aide alimentaire [in French]
- VRT, 10 June: VN: “Er is hongersnood in Noord-Ethiopië en het zal nog veel erger worden” [in Dutch]
- BBC, 9 June: Tigray conflict: ‘We have no food, we face death’
- Associated Press, 5 June: UN: Famine is imminent in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region
- InterAction, 4 June: InterAction Statement on Looming Threat of Famine in Tigray
- The Telegraph, 4 June: Starvation ‘used as weapon of war’ in Ethiopia
- BBC, 4 June: UN fears repeat of 1984 Ethiopian famine
- VoA, 3 June: Displaced Families in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Going Hungry
- Devex, 3 June: US-EU plan meeting to keep spotlight on Ethiopia ahead of G-7
- New edition of the Tigray atlas
An updated version of the “Tigray: Atlas of the humanitarian situation”, was published on 4 June.
Nine maps have been updated (civilian casualties, people in need of food assistance, food aid distribution, displaced people). We published two new maps of Tigray, concerning spring rainfall in February-May 2021 (onset of the growing season!). The worsening food security situation was again updated on 11 June. Where maps have been updated, the corresponding text and references also have been updated.
Here we show the map representing current and projected food security outcomes indicating that food security in the larger part of Tigray has reached an emergency level; and locally, the “catastrophe” level, i.e. famine. Each dot represents 1000 famine-affected people!
- Aleteia, 10 June: Ethiopia: ‘Genocide is happening in Tigray’
- Reuters, 7 June: How ethnic killings exploded from an Ethiopian town
- Kerknet, 7 June: Religie en cultuur onder vuur in Tigray [in Dutch]
- South China Morning Post, 6 June: Why China is taking a low profile on Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict
- Today News Africa, 5 June: Ethiopian activist pens scathing letter on “BBC’s bias on the war in Tigray”: They are ‘misleading the world by downplaying the atrocities’
- Near East News Agency, 5 June: “Genocidio nel Tigray” [in Italian] – English translation: “Genocide in Tigray”
- NPR, 5 June: Ethiopia To Hold Critical Election Amid Period Of Political Turmoil
- Associated Press, 4 June: Lost limbs, rising anger as town is caught up in Tigray war
- Associated Press, 4 June: Tigray rebels tell AP they will fight till victory
- Avvenire, 3 June: La guerra dimenticata. Etiopia, stupri usati come armi [in Italian]
- Sputnik International, 3 June: US Comedian Tiffany Haddish Faces Twitter Backlash Over Controversial Support for Eritrean Leader
- Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 2 June: Voice of America is airing Ethiopian propaganda, staffers claim
- Aciafrica, 2 June: Catholic Nuns among Rape Victims in Growing Military Brutality in Tigray, Ethiopia
- The Guardian, 2 June: Calls grow for Ethiopia to declare ceasefire in Tigray to allow aid
- NOS, 31 May: Jeugd wil wraak na getuigenissen van gruwelijke verkrachtingen in Tigray [in Dutch] – English translation: Youth seeks revenge after testimonies of horrific rapes in Tigray
- Addis Standard, 31 May: Keria Ibrahim appears at Fed. high court after prosecutors seek to reinstate charges following her refusal to testify against Sebhat Nega et al.
- AFP, 31 May: Aid Worker Slain In ‘Fire Fight’ In Ethiopia’s Tigray
- NPR, 12 May: War Crimes Are Suspected In Northern Ethiopia’s Conflict Zone
- NPR, 11 May: Behind The Humanitarian Crisis Caused By The Civil War In Ethiopia
- Feven Girmay: Abiy promised Ethiopia’s democratization but is delivering its disintegration
- René Lefort: Les Tigréens sont mis à genoux et dépossédés des moyens de se relever [in French] – English translation: The Tigrayans are brought to their knees and dispossessed of the means to get up
- Kjetil Tronvoll: The Nobel committee should resign over the atrocities in Tigray
- Anna Nordén, Kristina Mohlin, Susanna Olai, Thomas Sterner, Sverker Jagers, Johan Boman, Rune Andersson, Christian Munthe: Sexuella övergrepp och svält används som vapen i Etiopien [in Swedish]
- Abdullahi Boru Halakhe: The End of Abiy-Mania
Follow up communication compiled by Prof. Dr. Jan Nyssen.
Jan Nyssen is full professor of geography at Ghent University (Belgium). Besides numerous scientific publications mostly related to Ethiopia, he published two books: “ካብ ሓረስቶት ደጉዓ ተምቤን እንታይ ንስምዕ”? “What do we hear from the farmers in Dogu’a Tembien”? [in Tigrinya] (2016), and “Geo Trekking in Ethiopia’s Tropical Mountains, the Dogu’a Tembien District”. Springer GeoGuide (2019).