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More than 400,000 people facing famine in Ethiopia

While a unilateral cease-fire was declared by the government of Ethiopia last week, the U.N officials have warned of increasing starvation and violence in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinato Ramesh Rajasingham told diplomats, “One of the most distressing trends is an alarming rise in food insecurity and hunger due to conflict where more than 400,000 people are expected to face famine while another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine.”

Pointing out the situation where it is tough to get aid to those who are in need after months of fighting that has left the region devastated while basic services to support humanitarian delivery are absent. Mek’ele, the capital city of the Tigray region has no electrical power or internet. Therefore the key infrastructure has been destroyed, and there are no flights entering or leaving the area as well.

According to Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemraie DiCarlo, many serious human rights violations such as acts of sexual violence against children, adults as well as mass killings had been committed during the conflict.

Due to the "tragedies of historic proportions" which are taking place in Tigray, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. has called for an open Security Council meeting. “But an open meeting is not enough. What we need to see is action on the ground," she further stated.

At the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield laid out what the U.S. says must happen next. "We need to see a cease-fire that is permanent; that all of the parties agree to. We need to see the Eritrean troops return to their own border. We need to see unfettered access for humanitarian workers. We need to see accountability for the atrocities that have been committed."

"Ethiopia has tried to avoid this meeting for months," Richard Gowan, U.N. Director for the International Crisis Group told.

"The fact that the U.S. and its allies have secured this meeting is itself a signal that Ethiopia has lost some credibility and it opens up the possibility that the Council will take further action down the road." he further specified.

The fighting broke out in November 2020 when Ethiopian government troops moved against forces in the Tigray region. Neighboring Eritrea sent troops across the border to help the Ethiopian regime fight Tigray's former governing party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front.

"Council members have an opportunity to send a clear message to the parties on the ground: this conflict must end," Ireland's Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, one of the first co-sponsors of the call for a meeting along with the U.S. and U.K. said:

Answering a question as to what the U.S. had hoped to get out of Friday's meeting, ambassador Thomas-Greenfield replied, "the parties to the conflict know that we are watching them, and we're watching them closely."

-With input from CBC News

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