Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - Nearly 5,000 people died of malnutrition in just part of Ethiopia’s blockaded Tigray region over a four-month period last year, including more than 350 young children, a new report by the region’s health bureau says. The report published by Ethiopia Insight, refers to the period between July and October, and is the result of an evaluation carried out by the local health authorities in collaboration with some international humanitarian groups.
The deaths were overwhelmingly from malnutrition, infectious disease and noncommunicable diseases. The region's health system was largely destroyed by the conflict that broke out in November 2020.
The mortality assessment covered just roughly 40% of Tigray, since occupation of some areas by combatants and the lack of fuel caused by the blockade has limited data-gathering and aid delivery. Without medical supplies or vaccines, easily preventable disease like measles were emerging in Tigray and COVID-19 has begun to spread.
According to the United Nations has repeatedly warned that less than 15% of the needed supplies have been entering Tigray under what it called a de facto humanitarian blockade. Ethiopia’s government has expressed concern about aid falling into the hands of fighters. Following the latest offensives by the government forces, the forces of the Tigray People's Liberation Front have withdrawn from the region. On January 23, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry in a statement said it was working with aid partners to facilitate daily cargo flights to Tigray "to transport much-needed medicines and supplies". The very serious humanitarian situation in Tigray was denounced to Fides (see Fides, 19/1/2022) by the Diocesan Catholic Secretariat of Adigrat (ADCS). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/1/2022)