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Updated February 6th, 2021 at 08:38 IST

Ethiopia's Tigray in 'grave' situation, people forced to eat leaves to survive, says UN

UN said that the situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region is "extremely grave" as hundreds of thousands of people are in dire need of life-saving assistance

Reported by: Vishal Tiwari
Ethiopia
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The United Nations on Friday said that the situation in Ethiopia's Tigray region is "extremely grave" as thousands of people are in dire need of life-saving assistance. The UN renewed its calls for immediate humanitarian access to all areas in Tigray to help the people affected by the civil war. The UN said that the fighting between the Ethiopian Army and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces in the region has displaced several thousand people, with conditions so extreme that many have been forced to eat leaves to survive. 

Read: UN: Ethiopia May Not Have Control Of A Large Part Of Tigray

"Full access must be granted now, to prevent things getting even worse," said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch. The situation in the region became worse after the fighting spread to the area where two refugee camps housing Eritrean people came under the fire of the warring sides."Some said they had resorted to eating leaves because there was no other food available. They also spoke about the infiltration of armed actors in the camps, of killings, abductions, and also some forced returns to Eritrea at the hands of Eritreans forces present in the area," Baloch said. 

Read: Ex-Peace Corps Volunteers Plead With US For Help On Tigray

Tigray conflict

The immediate conflict in the region was sparked after the ruling TPLF party, a minority party at the centre but a strong and powerful group in the region, allegedly attacked a military base of the federal forces on November 4 following which Ahmed's government launched a military offensive. 

Relations between TPLF and the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had started straining after the latter announced reforms to end ethnic federalism in the country. Ahmed dissolved the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which had ruled the country for 30 years, and created a new Prosperity Party by merging all regional parties. The creation of the Prosperity Party meant a reduction of TPLF's influence at the federal level, which prompted the powerful regional organisation to refuse to join the coalition. 

Read: Tigray Leader Slams Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Over Military Offensive; Urges Ceasefire

The relations took a drastic hit after the TPLF party held parliamentary elections in September despite the central government's decision to postpone all polls in the country due to COVID-19 concerns. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister then launched a military offensive in Tigray to take back control from the local TPLF forces. This resulted in a humanitarian crisis in the region, which saw thousands of people getting displaced or being persecuted by the government forces.  

Read: Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Rejects Tigray Conflict Talks In African Union Meeting

(Image Credit: AP)
 

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Published February 6th, 2021 at 08:38 IST

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