Food as Weapon of War – Fallout of the devastating Tigray Conflict

People living in many parts of Ethiopia, particularly the conflict-ridden Tigray region, are suffering from a man-made food crisis. On top of atrocities like massacres, gang rapes and expulsion, Tigrayans are facing another urgent problem: hunger and starvation.

Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers are blocking food aid and even stealing it, thus turning food into a weapon of war to target the opponents. Military convoys with food and medical aid are being turned back by Ethiopian military officials and opposing groups as fighting continues. The soldiers are accused of stopping farmers from harvesting, stealing the seeds for planting, killing livestock and looting farm equipment.

More than 2 million of Tigray’s 6 million people have already fled, unable to harvest their crops. Those who stayed, cannot plant new crops or till the land because they fear for their lives. Soldiers from both sides have been reported to have contaminated food silos, mixing grain with sand and soil.

International food aid cannot reach the remote parts of Tigray region which is known for its rugged inaccessibility. The UN World Food Program has delivered aid to 1.4 million people which is less than half of the number of people who need food in Tigray.

Another victim of the food crisis in Ethiopia are the animals, especially the livestock and cattle which are also left starving. The food that eventually reaches the needy after all odds, is hardly sufficient to feed a family even for a few days.

The UN says that a famine might already be happening in war-torn Tigray with more than 3,50,000 people already starving.

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