The UK minister is calling for action to be taken on the food crisis in Ethiopia.

The UK minister is calling for action to be taken on the food crisis in Ethiopia.

According to Andrew Mitchell, the minister for Africa in the UK, the potential for a humanitarian disaster in northern Ethiopia is increasing. Mitchell made this statement after his two-day visit to the area.

Mitchell urged immediate action to prevent a potential humanitarian disaster.

The nation is currently facing the consequences of a prolonged drought caused by El Niño and a violent conflict, which includes the recent two-year conflict in the northern area of Tigray that concluded in November 2022.

The United Kingdom, which has prioritized Ethiopia for a long time, is gradually undoing significant reductions to its aid program. During his visit, Mitchell held discussions with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa and also visited Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray. The main purpose of his trip was to emphasize the urgency of preparing aid in order to prevent a famine.

Similar to other ministers in the Foreign Office, Mitchell has been focused on the humanitarian emergency in Gaza. However, he is concerned that other equally significant crises, like the one in Ethiopia, have not received enough attention from the international community.

“In the northern region of Ethiopia, there is a widespread food crisis affecting millions of individuals,” he stated. “The combination of war, such as the situation in Tigray, and the impact of climate change have greatly impacted crop yields and resulted in displacement of communities.”

Mitchell was informed that 1 million individuals had been forced to leave their homes and 3 million were suffering from severe food insecurity and hunger.

Donors from around the world have been working to assist approximately 6.6 million individuals in need. The UN recently reported that the number of those severely lacking in food could potentially rise to 10.8 million in the lean season of July to September.

The United Nations stated that malnutrition rates in certain areas of Afar, Amhara, Tigray and other regions have exceeded internationally recognized levels of crisis. However, the current situation does not meet the criteria for a famine.

The United Kingdom has established a financial resource to eliminate avoidable fatalities, with a focus on young children, specifically those under the age of five, and expectant and new mothers.

The program worth £100 million aims to assist over 3 million Ethiopians by establishing 75 health centers to address malnutrition and other avoidable causes of mortality, like malaria and cholera. This will be achieved by improving access to family planning assistance, medication, and childhood immunizations.

Ethiopia ranks fourth in terms of maternal mortality, with approximately 10,000 mothers losing their lives each year due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. A significant number of these deaths could be avoided through basic measures such as providing support before, during, and after pregnancy, including the provision of medication, nutritional supplements, clean water, and access to sanitation in health facilities.

Mitchell warned that the current crisis should be a signal for the world to take action. He emphasized that there is a dire shortage of food and that wars have caused displacement and destruction of important infrastructure. Additionally, he noted that climate change and El Niño have contributed to mass migrations, such as the displacement of 400,000 people in the Somali region of Ethiopia in November of last year.

Millions of individuals are caught in a destructive cycle of displacement, starvation, and necessity. Once again, the most susceptible individuals, especially women and children, are the first to suffer.

We need the support of the international community to help Ethiopia. Together with the government and our international allies, we must take action to stop and undo this crisis. In a region where famine has occurred before, it is crucial that we increase global efforts to prevent a severe crisis from occurring again soon.

The leader of the temporary governing body in Tigray, Getachew Reda, has reported that 91% of the people living in the semi-arid area are facing potential starvation and death. He has urged the central government in Addis Ababa to provide aid.