Mark Lowcock is the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

I was first in northern Ethiopia in the mid-’80s in the wake of the horrific famine that took the lives of a million people. In the 35 years since then, Ethiopia’s story has been one of remarkable progress. Children in school and jobs created. Roads, railways, factories and power stations built. Addis Ababa became one of the leading African cities; Ethiopia a bulwark of relative stability in the region.

What’s tragic about the current conflict is the danger of all that progress being lost.

As I write, the conflict in and around Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is well into its fifth week, with hundreds of people reportedly killed, tens of thousands displaced and millions enduring day after day without food, water and power.