Ethiopia’s Tigray region is facing a deepening hunger emergency, with about 350,000 people threatened by famine. It is the most severe starvation crisis in the world right now, and it is almost entirely manmade.
The region, located in the north of the country, has been engulfed in conflict since November, when a political dispute between Ethiopia’s central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party that represents the Tigray region, erupted into open warfare. The Ethiopian National Defense Force has since partnered with troops from neighboring Eritrea and other militias within Ethiopia, specifically Amhara forces, in the battle against the Tigrayan defense forces.
The fighting has had horrific consequences. There have been credible reports of atrocities being committed by all parties in the conflict, including mass killings, mass rape, and destruction and looting of property. As of April, more than 1.7 million people had been internally displaced, and more than 60,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Sudan since November.
Aid access has been inconsistent, and in May the United Nations confirmed a CNN report that Ethiopian federal troops and allied forces were blocking humanitarian supplies from entering parts of Tigray — a charge the Ethiopian government has denied.
Taken together, experts and observers feared this would balloon into a crisis of mass starvation. Now that crisis has arrived.