Around 22 million people in Ethiopia will need food aid to avoid the risk of dying in 2022, according to a United Nations report. About 115 million people live in the war-torn nation, Africa’s second most populous country.
Ethiopia’s already high hunger levels are expected to rise in 2022 due to the ongoing civil war, drought, flooding, disease outbreaks and locust infestation, says the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“Humanitarian needs remain high in several parts of Ethiopia with at least 20 million people requiring some form of humanitarian assistance until the end of the year,” says the UN report, and the number of people depending on emergency food aid is rising in the war-torn regions of Tigray, Afar and Amhara.
“Also, urgent action is needed to reverse deepening drought impacts in southern and eastern Ethiopia. The continuous drought-like condition in the south of Oromia and Somali regions is of particular concern,” says the UN.
The Amhara region, where several cities were controlled by Tigray forces from July until recently, has experienced the largest increase with 3.7 million people in urgent need of food aid. At least four million people in Ethiopia have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict.
The East African country will need aid worth about $1.4 billion, of which $892 million must still be raised, the UN says.
Ethiopian officials described drought in several regions and said they are distributing food aid to some affected parts. But aid groups state their activities are still restricted in many parts of the embattled Tigray region as government forces have blocked deliveries of aid to the region.
Ethiopia’s government has been involved in a lethal conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since November 2020. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced millions.
After an advance in the summer in which they won control of large parts of the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions, Tigrayan forces are retreating to their home region, saying they want negotiations and peace. But officials of Ethiopia’s central government state the Tigray forces are crushed and have been forced to retreat.
The Ethiopian government has been using drones to strike Tigrayan forces over the past week, and Tigrayan media say dozens of people have been killed by them, including women and kids.