What You Need to Know:
After a two-day visit to Ethiopia, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, has today announced his Government’s intention to provide $126 million USD in funding for around 3 million Ethiopians.
The grant will focus mainly on enabling mothers and their babies to access essential health services such as family planning, vaccinations, and post-natal care.
Furthermore, emergency funding will be used to equip 75 health centers with the necessary supplies to combat malaria and cholera and will extend to the nation’s war torn region of Tigray.
As previously reported, the 24-month long conflict in the region, fought between November 2020 and November 2022, came as the result of a Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) Northern Command headquarters. A two-pronged response from the ENDF, who engaged the TPLF from the south, and the Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) who engaged the TPLF from the north came to an assumed end once Mekelle, the region’s capital, was captured.
However, the TPLF, the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), made up of former ENDF generals and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) hailing from the Ethiopia’s Oromia region, and a designated terrorist group in the country, formed a coalition aiming to oust Prime Minister Ahmed.
In March of 2022, a humanitarian truce allowed for the distribution of aid in Tigray before fighting once again broke out in August.
The implementation of an indefinite truce in November of 2022 ended the conflict between the ENDF and the TPLF,TDF,OLA coalition on paper. However, the EDF did not take part in the truce talks and continue to occupy several woredas and kebeles in the region.
Chief Cabinet Secretariat of the Tigrayan Interim Administration, Amanuel Assefa stated, “Irob, Gulomekeda, northern Tigray, and parts of northwestern Tigray remain in the hands of Eritrea. Six kebeles in the northern zone of Tigray are under the control of Eritrean forces. Tahtay Adiabo woreda, Badime and its area, Adi Tsetser, Gemhalo, Adimeti, and other kebeles in the northern part of Tigray are under the control of Eritrean forces.”
A statement on the UK Government’s official website notes, “across northern Ethiopia, millions of people are facing hunger. War and climate change have crippled crop production and driven people off their lands. The conflict in Tigray has left more than 1 million people displaced. The combination of conflict and failed harvests in northern Ethiopia have plunged over 3 million into a state of critical food security and hunger. Millions more people are in need, with women and young children in particular, severely affected.”
Additionally, Minister Mitchell stated, “The crisis is a wake-up call to the world. Food shortages are at a critical level. War has displaced people and decimated vital infrastructure. Climate change and El Nino have fuelled local exoduses with 400,000 displaced in the Somali region of Ethiopia as of last December.
Millions are trapped in displacement, hunger and need. As ever the most vulnerable people, particularly women and children, are the first to be hit.
The international community needs to come to Ethiopia’s side and work with our friends in the government and international partners to halt and reverse this crisis. In a region that has experienced the horrors of famine in the past, we must ramp up international efforts to avert a major crisis in the near future. We need to act fast and act now.”
So, What Now?:
The UK Government’s pledge to provide aid to Ethiopia’s most vulnerable is a step in the right direction, but as highlighted in its official statement, it is not enough for all those currently in need. The Tigray region in particular, still faces incursions from Eritrean Armed Forces and is on the cusp of a devastating famine that has already claimed 400 lives.