published : 2023-09-26

1,000 hunger deaths recorded in Ethiopia’s Tigray region following November cease-fire

Hunger was the cause of 68% of the deaths investigated in Tigray, Ethiopia, according to a study

An image of people waiting in line for food aid in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Researchers have revealed a shocking truth about the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

Since a cease-fire ended a two-year conflict there in November, 1,000 people have died due to hunger.

This devastating discovery comes from a study conducted by local health authorities and Mekele University.

They found that hunger is now the main cause of death in Tigray, accounting for over 68% of the deaths investigated.

To gather data for their study, health workers conducted a household census in nine subdistricts and 53 camps for internally displaced people.

Tigray has a total of 88 subdistricts and 643 displacement camps, suggesting that the number of hunger deaths across the region is likely much higher.

The suspension of food aid by the United States and United Nations worsened the situation.

This aid pause came after a massive scheme to steal humanitarian grain in Tigray was unearthed in March.

The theft was later discovered to be widespread, leading to the pause being extended to the rest of Ethiopia in June.

This suspension has left millions in Tigray without access to much-needed food aid.

A photo of a bustling displacement camp in Tigray, filled with tents and people seeking refuge, captured with a Nikon D850.

The Ethiopian government is pushing for the suspension to be lifted, while the U.S. government and the U.N. want the government to relinquish control of the food aid delivery system.

The number of deaths in the Tigray areas studied rose dramatically after the aid suspension.

From March to July, the researchers recorded a sharp increase from 159 deaths to 305 deaths, across all causes.

It's crucial to understand that 5.4 million out of Tigray's population of 6 million rely on humanitarian aid.

But the need doesn't end in Tigray alone.

Over 20 million people in Ethiopia as a whole require food aid, showcasing the magnitude of the crisis.

The study's findings, shared in a document seen by The Associated Press, were prepared by the Tigray Emergency Coordination Center, a group comprising U.N. agencies, aid organizations, and regional government offices.

Throughout the conflict between Ethiopian and allied forces and Tigray fighters, hunger has persistently plagued Tigray.

The federal government's actions—cutting off the region's services and restricting aid access—have led U.N. experts to accuse it of using hunger as a weapon.

However, the government has rejected these claims, instead blaming the Tigray fighters for the lack of access.

A heartbreaking image of a malnourished child in Tigray, highlighting the devastating impact of hunger, taken with a Sony Alpha A7III.

With the November cease-fire, hopes were raised that aid would finally reach the region.

But those hopes were quickly crushed by the discovery of a massive theft of grain, including U.S.-marked bags, being sold in local markets.

Tigray authorities found that a staggering 7,000 metric tons of grain had been stolen.

News emerged that 480 officials have been arrested in connection with the corruption behind this theft.

While Tigray has disclosed its own probe results, other parts of Ethiopia are yet to do the same.

The U.S. government and the U.N. World Food Program are also conducting investigations.

The magnitude of this crisis cannot be ignored.

Millions of lives are at stake, and urgent action is needed to address the hunger crisis in Tigray and across Ethiopia.