ETHIOPIA’S war-torn Tigray province faces famine, researchers warned today, with a plague of locusts descending on the northern region as officials called for urgent humanitarian aid.
The region has been plunged into turmoil as government forces continue a devastating military offensive, displacing more than 100,000 civilians and causing hundreds of deaths.
United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock confirmed that his office had set aside $20 million (£14.8m) to fight hunger in Ethiopia in the face of “civil unrest, growing insecurity, locust infestations” and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
About one million of Tigray’s people, out of a total population of six million, are already reliant on humanitarian assistance, as are millions more near its borders.
Now the region’s worst locust outbreak for decades has raised the spectre of famine.
Researchers warned that the insects had “destroyed vast areas of cropped land and numerous swarms remain active in north-eastern Ethiopia, where Tigray is located.”
Around 80 percent of Tigray’s population are subsistence farmers and the war is seriously disrupting the harvesting season. The situation is being made worse by the government diverting funds from the regional government to local administrations.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continues to ignore calls for peace talks, insisting that he will complete his “law enforcement operation.”