News: PM Abiy says “no death due to starvation so far” as authorities in Tigray report 860 deaths from hunger

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressing questions raised by legislators (Photo: ENA)

Addis Abeba – In his parliamentary speech today, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tackled mounting apprehensions concerning the repercussions of the prevailing drought across the nation. He affirmed, “based on the available information, there have been no reported deaths attributed to starvation, so far.”

Furthermore, the Prime Minister elucidated that recent accounts of fatalities are attributable to ailments such as cholera, malaria, malnutrition, and related diseases rather than the direct consequences of starvation.

Officials in the Tigray region however, are reporting the death of over 860 individuals due to hunger in the past six months.

Prime Minister Abiy indicated the presence of drought in specific regions, including Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and the eastern part of the country. Nonetheless, he emphasized that “we must refrain from politicizing this issue. Attempts to exploit the drought for political gains are unwarranted.”

Recognizing the ongoing drought situation in Tigray, the Prime Minister underscored that the federal government has dispatched over 500,000 quintals of food grain aid to Tigray within the last four months, reflecting a joint endeavor between the government and humanitarian organizations.

He reassured that the “current aid initiatives would persist in averting deaths due to hunger in the region,” urging the regional interim administration to allocate resources efficiently. “The regional authorities bear the responsibility of distributing aid, particularly to the areas most severely affected.”

Demonstrating dedication to mitigating the crisis, Prime Minister Abiy asserted that the government plays the primary role in drought prevention efforts. Furthermore, he disclosed a substantial financial commitment, noting, “We have allocated 15 billion birr, with approximately four billion contributed by humanitarian agencies.”

He also outlined future endeavors aimed at averting the adverse impact of drought on citizens, even if it entails the cancellation of projects.

In an interview with Addis Standard, Gebrehiwot Gebregzabher, Commissioner of the Disaster Risk Management Commission of Tigray, revealed that over 860 individuals have perished due to hunger in the past six months, a consequence of the severe drought afflicting the region.

Gebrehiwot emphasized that “the dire circumstances in Tigray transcend mere drought, evolving into a state of famine where both human and animal lives are at stake.”

The Commissioner expressed apprehension regarding the federal government’s reluctance to officially declare famine, despite the gravity of the situation.

Stressing the urgency of the matter, he underscored that resolving the famine in Tigray demands not only the engagement of the federal government but also active involvement from the international community.

Emphasizing the imperative for swift action, Gebrehiwot urged immediate intervention to avert a humanitarian catastrophe akin to the devastating famine of 1984/85, which claimed numerous lives across Ethiopia.

Accusations have been flying as the Tigray Tigray interim administration decries federal government’s dismissal of famine emergency.

In a statement issued last week, the Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO) criticized the lack of coordination between the federal and regional governments in responding to the crisis, confirming the death of more than 372 people due to hunger in the region.

The EIO highlighted the significant disparity in the number of drought victims reported by the federal and regional authorities. While the federal Disaster and Risk Management Commission reported 2.2 million people affected by the drought in the Tigray region, the interim administration of Tigray asserted a much higher figure of 4.2 million people, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), affected by the crisis. AS

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