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  • Ombudsman reports 351 hunger-related deaths in Tigray, confirms deaths in Amhara

Aid agencies have raised the alarm that a lack of funding for emergency responses pose a grave threat to tens of millions in need of urgent humanitarian response in Ethiopia.

The latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reveals only a third of an estimated USD four billion required for a humanitarian response plan introduced in 2023 has been raised.

The cost of the plan put in place last year was the highest ever for Ethiopia, surpassing the previous year’s figure of USD 3.33 billion. A little over half of the estimated costs for the 2022 plan were successfully raised.

Aid agencies expect to raise at least USD 2.9 billion to reach 20 million people in need this year, but, more than a month into 2024, and information on how much funding has been raised remains scarce.

A joint statement from the heads of the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission and the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia issued on February 1, 2024, calls for “urgent action now to allow a redoubling of response efforts.”

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Drought driven by El Nino combined with violent conflict in swathes of the country are “ravaging communities in the highlands of Ethiopia,” reads the statement.

“Most affected, however, are vulnerable communities in northern Ethiopia that have yet to recover from the 2020-2022 conflict, particularly in localized areas of Amhara, Tigray and Afar where the recent harvest was disrupted leaving households with no or limited food stock,” the statement reads.

In a recent interview with The Reporter, Gebrehiwot Gebre-Egziahber (PhD), head of the Tigray Disaster Risk Management Commission, disclosed that at least 860 people had died of hunger in the Regional State.

Several other reports have recently shed light on drought-related death in both the Amhara and Tigray regions. The Ethiopian Institution of the Ombudsman earlier this week reported that in Tigray alone about 351 people have died of hunger.

Although the Amhara Regional Disaster Risk Management Bureau has stated there have been no drought-related deaths in the region, the Ombudsman confirmed in its report that there have been dozens of them in pockets of the region.

The federal government has yet to acknowledge any deaths caused by hunger in Ethiopia.
In their joint statement, Commissioner Shiferaw Teklemariam (Amb.) and UN Country Representative Ramiz Alakbarov (PhD) urged for support to “avert a serious humanitarian catastrophe.”

“There is a short window of opportunity to prevent further deterioration,” reads the statement.

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