Addis Ababa – The recent decision by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to award the prestigious Agricola Medal to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has sparked criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The organization argues that the award overlooks the severe humanitarian crisis and extensive food insecurity currently plaguing Ethiopia. According to HRW, millions of Ethiopians are grappling with food insecurity.
HRW highlights reports from Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Management Commission and the national food cluster, indicating that approximately four million individuals in conflict-affected regions, including Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia, and the southern regions, urgently require food and nutrition assistance.
Allegations have emerged during the Tigray conflict, suggesting that Ethiopian government forces employed deliberate tactics such as pillaging and attacking food systems, exacerbating food insecurity. HRW emphasizes that an independent UN inquiry found these actions to be tantamount to using starvation as a weapon of war and committing crimes against humanity.
Despite the gravity of these findings, HRW notes a perceived lack of condemnation and concrete actions by world leaders and international bodies to address the conflict-induced famine.
The organization urges world leaders to acknowledge the severity of the crisis and take decisive measures to alleviate the dire circumstances by ensuring the delivery of vital food and nutrition aid to those in urgent need.
The FAO’s recognition of Prime Minister Abiy has generated mixed reactions and criticism. Taye Atskesellasie, the PM’s foreign policy adviser, praised the FAO, stating, “Indeed, when the lives of farmers improve, so does the country’s.” AS