USAID claims 5.2 million people in the region are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance , and food aid. The figure however seems to be tricky.
U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator, Samantha Power, on Wednesday announced that her country will provide $181 million dollars in aid to support the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
It will be channelled via U.S. Aid “to deliver life-saving food, agricultural supplies, safe drinking water, shelter, health care, and essential services to protect the most vulnerable in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where a worsening humanitarian catastrophe threatens millions of civilians,” it was said.
Based on updates from the U.S. aid, the money will be spent on 100,000 metric tons of food, which is said to be enough food for three million people for two months. It also aims to provide seeds,tools and fertilizers for farmers in the region.
USAID described the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia as “dire” that is “deteriorating at alarming speed ” claiming that 5.2 million people in the region are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The number however does not seem to be accurate.
A report by reliefweb in November 2020 entitled “Africa: Tigray Population Movement Information bulletin (20 November 2020)” estimated the total population in Tigray to be 5 million. And there was no official census in recent months. Now a top google search result about the population of Tigyay indicates 7.07 million.
The image painted by USAID about the situation in Tigray itself is starkly different from one that is shared by Ethiopian authorities.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in the region in November 2020, the Ethiopian government has been providing more than 70 percent of humanitarian aid ( food and other supplies). It was said that more than 4 million people in all the zones and districts, except in four districts, were provided with humanitarian aid.
Also, recent news coverage by state owned media indicated that most of the areas in the region, including Mekelle city, are returning to normalcy.
There had been security challenges in the past related to the guerrilla activities of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Last month, Ethiopia’s Emergency Task Force Last said that 20 members of provisional administration authorities were assassinated and 22 others were kidnapped.
TPLF’s guerrilla operation complicated humanitarian assistance work in the region. The U.S. government imposed visa sanctions on selected Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities in connection with the situation in the region.
Reports of Famine in Tigray region of Ethiopia
Mr. Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, claimed on Friday that there is already famine in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
He said so during a meeting with representatives from G7 and EU Member States, and heads of UN agencies including OCHA, UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR, WHO, UN Women, UNDP and FAO, as reported by OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
He also tweeted :
“There is famine in Ethiopia right now. To save lives and stop the situation getting far worse, humanitarian actors need:
far more funding, urgently
unobstructed access to people who need aid
to dramatically scale-up their response”
The Ethiopian government has not reported any famine in the region.
There has been growing skepticism, even condemnation, in Ethiopia in opposition to the way state and non-state actors in the west
have been trying to pressure Ethiopia in connection with the situation in the region.
People tend to think that the U.S. , its allies and multilateral institutions overwhich the U.S. has immense influence are rather engaged in resuscitating TPLF – which triggered and lost the war.
USA ‘s pressure on Ethiopia seems to be catalyzing a search for a new alliance in the Horn of Africa. China and Russia opposed US’s interventionist policy in the region.