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Report: Severe hunger affects 40% of Tigray region

Report: Severe hunger affects 40% of Tigray region
An Ethiopian refugee woman with her child from Tigray region wait to receive aid. File Photo by Ala Kheir/EPA-EFE

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Severe hunger in the Tigray region -- which has been subject to constant conflict for 15 months -- affects almost 40% of all people who live there, a new assessment shows.

The United Nations World Food Program released figures on Friday stating that more than 9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in northern Ethiopia.

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While 83% of people are food insecure -- meaning they could struggle to feed themselves or their families -- almost 40% are facing severe hunger in the region.

"Families are exhausting all means to feed themselves, with three-quarters of the population using extreme coping strategies to survive," WFP reported. "Diets are increasingly impoverished as food items become unavailable and families rely almost exclusively on cereals while limiting portion sizes and the number of meals they eat each day to make whatever food is available stretch further."

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The Tigray Emergency Food Security Assessment also found that 13% of children under 5 years old, and half of all pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished.

The results: poor pregnancy outcomes, low-birth weights, stunting and maternal death.

"WFP is doing all it can to ensure our convoys with food and medicines make it through the frontlines," said Michael Dunford, WFP's Regional Director for Eastern Africa. "But if hostilities persist, we need all the parties to the conflict to agree to a humanitarian pause and formally agreed transport corridors, so that supplies can reach the millions besieged by hunger."

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Prior to conflict between the Ethiopian government and rebels in the Tigray region in 2020, 93% of people said they hadn't experienced hunger.

Now, only about 45% can say the same.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden raised concerns over airstrikes carried out by the Ethiopian government that have caused civilian casualties. Tigray rebels claimed that more than 50 civilians were killed at the beginning of this month in an airstrike.

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The United States has called for an end to the conflict and shown support for the continent with a five-day visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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