US and EU call for end to starvation “nightmare” of Tigray
The United States and the European Union (EU) on Thursday issued an urgent call to action to tackle the outbreak of famine caused by the conflict in Ethiopian Tigray, on the eve of a summit of G7 leaders in UK.
“Famine may already be underway in some areas, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. This is unacceptable, ”said the American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during an international videoconference organized by the United States and the EU.
“To avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, the entire international community must act directly and indirectly, quickly and vigorously,” said Janez Lenarcic, the European Commissioner responsible for crisis management.
The impact of climate change on the poorest countries, financing for development and relations with the African continent will be discussed by the leaders of the seven major industrialized powers and their guests during their summit this weekend in the United Kingdom.
The American ambassador deplored the inability of the UN Security Council to organize a public meeting to end the crisis. A closed-door meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday.
– A man-made emergency –
“We are witnessing a humanitarian nightmare (…). We cannot let Ethiopia starve. We must act now, ”she said. Ms. Thomas-Greenfield denounced a “man-made” emergency.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent the federal army to Tigray in November 2020 to arrest and disarm the leaders of the TPLF (Front for the Liberation of the People of Tigray), which was party at the time. in power in this region of the north of the country and which challenged the central government.
He then promised a short military operation, but the fighting continues and numerous reports point to atrocities, including the widespread use of rape.
The United Nations has said more than 90% of the more than five million people living in Tigray are in need of emergency food aid and has launched an urgent appeal for more than $ 200 million to scale up their response. .
“Famine is now raging in Tigray,” said Mark Lowcock, head of UN humanitarian operations. “We really need everyone to mobilize,” he insisted.
The United States has announced additional funding of $ 181 million to “provide vital food, agricultural products, clean water, shelter, health care and essential services” to people in need in Africa. Tiger.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for her part, announced Wednesday aid of 250 million euros “to fight against hunger”, including 50 million euros specially allocated to the Sahel and Africa. Is.
But the delivery of aid is blocked by the belligerents.
– “Burned and plundered” –
US Agency for International Development (USAID) director Samantha Power accused Ethiopia’s military allies of “burning and looting seeds and farm equipment and slaughtering oxen to ensure that fields remain fallow, as they are determined to eliminate the means of subsistence ”.
“These same forces threatened, intimidated, detained and even killed aid workers trying to feed the hungry,” she added.
“We know what is happening in Tigray, despite the complex nature of the conflict and the Ethiopian government’s attempts to cover it up,” she said.
“It means doing all we can to put an end to it,” she added.
The United States has decided to impose visa restrictions on Eritrean and Ethiopian officials accused of fueling the conflict. Washington has also announced “large-scale” restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia.
The EU, for its part, has since December frozen the disbursement of some 90 million euros in budgetary aid to Ethiopia.