UN sources have warned of the dangers of a deadly famine spreading in the Tigray region (northern Ethiopia) and other regions if the world does not act to stop the war there, stressing that “rape and starvation have become a systematic weapon used against the displaced.”
Outgoing United Nations aid official Mark Lowcock told the 15-nation Security Council in a private briefing during a closed session on Tigray; It “should not surprise anyone to see a repeat” of the devastating 1984 famine if the violence in Tigray did not stop and the Eritrean forces did not withdraw. Read also Telegraph: Ethiopians suffer horrific burns from what appear to be white phosphorous attacks in Tigray Biden: Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach Ethiopia’s Tigray region The Times: Murder, rape and mass graves reveal the hidden horrors of the Ethiopian war in Tigray The Economist: Afwerki’s current war on Tigray is his last chance for survival
During the closed session, representatives of Member States heard two statements from Mark Lowcock and the Director of the World Food Program David Beasley.
Diplomats who attended the meeting quoted Lowcock as telling the council, “Rape is used systematically to terrorize and abuse women and girls.”
He added that Eritrean soldiers use starvation as a weapon of war, and that displaced people are detained, beaten and threatened.
Lowcock said that the famine suffered by hundreds of thousands in the war-torn Ethiopian region of Tigray has begun to spread to other parts of the country, in a warning that Addis Ababa strongly rejected.
He added – in his speech – that the United Nations and non-governmental organizations estimate the number of people currently suffering from starvation in Tigray at more than 350 thousand people, noting that administrative officials in the region have started “reporting deaths caused by starvation.”
The UN official pointed out that in addition to these 350 thousand people, “two million people in the regions of Tigray, Afar and Amhara” are on the verge of falling into the clutches of hunger.
However, Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Tay Aseki Selassie, said – after his participation in the session – that his country refuses that the Council discuss the issue of Tigray region, as it considers it an internal matter.
He added – in a statement to journalists – that he categorically disagrees with the assessment of the international organization on the famine in his country, considering that the United Nations and non-governmental organizations did not collect this data “in a transparent and comprehensive manner.”
The last closed session of the UN Security Council on Tigray dates back to last April 22, when its 15 members succeeded that day in agreeing to issue a unanimous statement on the violations taking place in the region in northern Ethiopia.
Selassie said that the situation in Tigray region does not require the UN Security Council to hold its own session.
In response to journalists’ questions about the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from Tigray, Selassie said, “This is a matter related to technical and procedural aspects, and we expect their withdrawal from the region soon.”
On the other hand, Britain’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Barbara Edward, stressed the need for Eritrean forces to withdraw from Tigray without delay.
“Ethiopia informed us last March of the withdrawal of Eritrean forces, and we are now in June, and there can be no further delay,” she told reporters after the session as well.
On the fourth of last November, clashes erupted in the region between the army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, before Addis Ababa announced on the 28th of the same month, the end of a “law enforcement” operation to control the entire region, despite reports of continuing Rights violations in the region until today.
The conflict caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands, as well as the flight of more than 60,000 people to Sudan, according to observers.