Renewed reports of violence and displacement in Ethiopia’s Tigray region prompted a warning about the effects of food insecurity on young people by the UN children’s agency on Monday.
“UNICEF is extremely alarmed by the reported killing of over 200 people, including more than 100 children, in attacks on displaced families sheltering at a health facility and a school in Afar region on Thursday, August 5,’’ agency director Henrietta Fore said.
“Crucial food supplies were also reportedly destroyed in an area that is already seeing emergency levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.’’
The intensification of fighting in Afar and other areas neighbouring Tigray was disastrous for children.
“It follows months of armed conflict across Tigray that have placed some 400,000 people, including at least 160,000 children, in famine-like conditions,’’ Fore said.
Some four million people were in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in Tigray and adjoining regions of Afar and Amhara, the agency noted.
More than 100,000 had been newly displaced by the recent fighting, adding to the two million people already uprooted from their homes.
“UNICEF estimates a 10-fold increase in the number of children who will suffer from life-threatening malnutrition in Tigray over the next 12 months.
“The food security and nutrition crisis is taking place amid extensive, systematic destruction of health and other services that children and communities rely on for survival.’’
Fore warned that the humanitarian catastrophe spreading across northern Ethiopia was being driven by armed conflict and called on all parties to end the fighting and protect children from harm.
A day earlier, Tigray rebels said they had gained control of the historic city of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the Amhara region.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) said it was taking “all necessary precautions’’ to protect civilians and infrastructure in Lalibela, including the 11 churches carved from rock in the 13th century that were included on the list of world heritage sites.
The Ethiopian government launched an offensive against the TPLF in the Tigray region in November after years of tension between the two.
The TPLF had dominated Ethiopia for over 25 years until the government in Addis Ababa under Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018. (dpa/NAN)