By Etenesh Abera @EteneshAb
Addis Abeba, June 11/2021 – Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director, said “without humanitarian access to scale up our response, an estimated 33,000 severely malnourished children in currently inaccessible areas in Tigray are at high risk of death.”
Speaking on behalf of the Director, UNICEF spokesperson, James Elder, said “more young children and babies slide dangerously close to sickness and potential death from malnutrition. UNICEF is working with our partners to provide nutrition, health care and clean water support.
“The world cannot permit that to happen.”
“more young children and babies slide dangerously close to sickness and potential death from malnutrition.”James Elder
On June 10, speaking at the US-EU high level meeting, Mr. Lowcock said “there is famine now” in Tigray and revealed a large number of latest humanitarian impediments in Tigray. According to him 131 latest incidents were reported by the UN, including detention & assault of aid workers. Of the 131, 50 are by Eritrean forces, 54 by Ethiopian forces, 4 by a combination of the two, 21 by Amhara militias, & one by Tigrayan opposition forces.
“we do not have any food shortage. It is not time; it is not a position to declare famine in current Tigray regional state context.”Mitiku Kassa
The federal government denies both humanitarian impediments and reports of famine. On Wednesday June 09, Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission, said “we do not have any food shortage. It is not time; it is not a position to declare famine in current Tigray regional state context.”
“UNICEF, WFP and FAO are extremely concerned about the situation in Tigray region where the risk of famine is imminent, unless food, livelihood assistance and other life-saving interventions continue to be scaled-up, unimpeded access is guaranteed, and hostilities cease,” Mr. Elder said.
UNICEF’s head of nutrition is currently in Tigray and upon leaving, will give a specialized briefing to this Palais on Tuesday June 15.
“I saw the devastation to crops and cattle. And we rang alarm bells to enable people to plant now so they can have food later in the year. That hasn’t happened.”James Elder
Speaking at Geneva Palais briefing today, the spokesperson said, “June is a critical month, as it is when the cereal planting season ends for the year. When I was in Tigray in May …I saw the devastation to crops and cattle. And we rang alarm bells to enable people to plant now so they can have food later in the year. That hasn’t happened. There are many issues, but safe access remains foremost.”
An IPC analysis update conducted in Tigray and the neighboring zones of Amhara and Afar concluded that over 350,000 people are in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) between May and June 2021. James Elder said this was the largest number of people classified as being in Catastrophic Food Insecurity conditions in a decade (since the 2010-11 Somalia famine) and that it “risks the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of children.” Mr. Elder said that “while this figure […] does not meet the threshold needed to trigger a formal famine declaration (20 per cent of surveyed population), let’s not play with terminology when people are dying.”
However, “when we think of famine, we often think of a lack of food. But increasingly the crisis is one not only of food insecurity but also of clean water, sanitation and health care – especially disease prevention and treatment. Water and sanitation are just as important as food for children and families facing famine and food insecurity.
UNICEF, the UN’s cluster lead agency for nutrition, said it is scaling up its nutrition response in Tigray across all seven zones, focused on screening and treating children suffering from severe wasting. Since February, 250,000 children under five years of age have been screened for wasting and over 7,000 of them have been admitted for treatment.
UNICEF projects that out of the estimated 56,000 children in Tigray who will need treatment for severe wasting in 2021, 33,000 are expected to be missed if unfettered access is not guaranteed. This can lead to extremely high levels of under-five deaths in the current situation where more than 70 per cent of the health system is no longer providing services. The lack of access also systematically impedes assessments and surveys to better understand the needs and determinants of undernutrition.
UNICEF requires US$10.7 million to provide ready-to-use therapeutic food to children in Tigray and affected neighboring zones in Amhara and Afar regions. The funding will also enable UNICEF and partners to provide routine medication and scale up life-saving treatment of wasting and counseling of mothers and caregivers on recommended infant and young child feeding practices. AS
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