Rome: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF have called for urgent action to address the dramatic acute food insecurity in northern Ethiopia.
The three agencies are particularly concerned about the situation in Tigray region where the risk of famine is imminent, unless food, livelihood assistance and other life-saving interventions continue to be scaled-up, unimpeded access is guaranteed, and hostilities cease.
The call came in response to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, released Thursday.
The IPC is a global, multi-partner initiative - comprised of 15 UN agencies, regional organisations, and international non-governmental organisations - that facilitates improved decision-making through the provision of consensus-based food insecurity and malnutrition analysis.
According to the report, over 350 000 people are already facing catastrophic conditions (IPC 5, Catastrophe) in Tigray region.
This is the highest number of people classified in IPC 5 Catastrophe in a single country in the last decade.
Over 60 percent of the population, more than 5.5 million people, grapple with high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC 3-5) in Tigray and the neighbouring zones of Amhara and Afar.
Of these, 2 million people are in Emergency level of acute food insecurity (IPC 4) and without urgent action could quickly slide into starvation.
The severity of acute food insecurity is expected to increase through September, particularly in Tigray, with over 400 000 people projected to face catastrophic conditions (IPC 5, Catastrophe) without urgent and unhindered aid.
"Rural communities in northern Ethiopia have been particularly affected by the conflict. Many farms have been destroyed and productive assets such as seeds and livestock lost," said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu in a press release on Thursday.
"It is imperative that we help these communities keep their families fed, and support local food production, paving the way for a faster recovery. But to help people on the brink of famine, we need resources and access – both of which remain a problem," he stated.
The UN agencies are particularly concerned by the risk of famine in Tigray if conflict escalates and humanitarian assistance is significantly hampered.
The lack of reliable and comprehensive data on people’s food security situation in western Tigray is also deeply worrying.