World, Africa

Extreme hunger claims in Tigray 'falsified': Ethiopia

Int'l NGO Oxfam has warned that 5M people in Tigray face extreme hunger

Addis Getachew   | 04.05.2021
Extreme hunger claims in Tigray 'falsified': Ethiopia A view from the Kedamay Weyane livestock market in Mekelle city of the Tigray region, in northern Ethiopia. ( FILE PHOTO - Anadolu Agency )

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Ethiopia on Tuesday described international anti-poverty NGO Oxfam’s claim that 5 million people in the country’s northernmost region of Tigray face extreme hunger as "falsified information."

“Six months since the conflict erupted in Tigray, thousands of farmers have nothing to plant ahead of the rainy season as the crisis compounded by climate-fueled locust devastated their tools and livestock and pushed over 5 million people to extreme levels of hunger,” Oxfam said in a statement.

The statement quoted Gezahegn Kebede Gebrehana, Oxfam’s country director in Ethiopia, as saying: “Farming should be beginning now ahead of the long rainy season in June, but it has come to a total halt due to conflict and the absence of rain. Many farmers have no seeds to plant, and their oxen and tools were looted or destroyed in the conflict. Trade and market exchanges have stagnated as people fear a resurgence of fighting.”

But the Ethiopian government said it has been diligently delivering humanitarian assistance to the needy in Tigray, a region that came to the international spotlight after a sweeping law enforcement measure launched by the government rendered a hard blow to the hitherto all-too-powerful Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) -- a party at the lead of the four-party coalition Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front that ruled the country for 27 years up till 2018 with a heavy hand.

On Nov. 3, the forces of the TPLF launched a gruesome attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces stationed all over the Tigray region, including its capital Mekele, killing soldiers and looting sizable military hardware.

Sporadic fighting is being reported six months into the Tigray conflict that caused hundreds of thousands of people to become internally displaced and another 60,000 to flee fighting into neighboring Sudan.

“The Ethiopian government has been delivering humanitarian assistance, both food and non-food, to 4.5 million people,” Debebe Zewde, the director of public relations with the Disaster Risk Management Commission, told Anadolu Agency.

“There were 600,000 people who were already receiving relief in Tigray before the conflict, and 746,582 people were embraced in the relief package as they were displaced by the conflict, making the real number of needy people 2.5 million,” he said.

“We have been able to reach out to 4.5 million people with food and non-food relief items considering that people might have been affected by bank closures in Tigray for a short period of time after the launch of the law enforcement measure,” he said.

According to Debebe, the Ethiopian government has been covering 70% of all humanitarian assistance being delivered while international humanitarian organizations were covering the balance.

“We have set up 92 food distribution sites across the region as we implement our strategy of ‘food to where the needy are, not the needy to where food is,’ and the government has spent $50.5 million on the program,” he added.

He lamented the existence of widespread international campaigns to tarnish the image of Ethiopia as international organizations and many media houses foment falsified information such as this latest one.

“We even have been using aircraft and pack animals to deliver food to those living in most inaccessible areas,” he said.

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