Report: More than 5,000 people die during Ethiopia’s Tigray blockade

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Nearly 1,500 people have died from malnutrition in just one part of Ethiopia’s blockaded Tigray region in a…

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Nearly 1,500 people died from malnutrition in just one part of Ethiopia’s blockaded Tigray region over a four-month period last year, including more than 350 young children, a new report from regional health office said. It cited more than 5,000 lockdown-related deaths all from hunger and disease, the country’s largest official war-related death toll.

The head of Tigray’s medical office, Hagos Godefay, told The Associated Press late last year that: “Deaths are increasing alarmingly, including from easily preventable diseases like drug-induced rabies. expired or expired. “This is one of the worst times of my life, I can tell you.”

His report on the findings, published Wednesday by the independent Ethiopia Insight, said 5,421 deaths were confirmed in Tigray between July and October in an assessment by his office and several international aid groups. This is the first such assessment since the fighting between Tigray and Ethiopian forces began in November 2020, he said.

The deaths were mainly due to malnutrition, infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases as health authorities and partners sought to assess the impact on Tigray’s population in its crumbling health system. destroyed mostly by warriors.

Hagos told the AP Thursday in a call from the capital Tigray, Mekele, though the report reflects a small percentage of deaths from the air strikes.

The mortality assessment only covers about 40% of Tigray, he said, as the occupation of some areas by militants and the lack of fuel due to the blockade have limited data collection and aid delivery. .

“Since the level of devastation and health crisis in inaccessible areas is certainly high, the survey will certainly understate the true extent of the crisis,” Hagos writes.

Severe acute malnutrition among children under 5 years of age, in Tigray before the war, at less than 2%, now over 7%, he said. The assessment found that at least 369 children under the age of 5 died from malnutrition, part of a total of 1,479 people.

The AP last year confirmed the first cases of starvation in the lockdown along with a government ban on humanitarian workers carrying medication. even individual people, on Tigray,

Hagos told the AP that without medical supplies or a vaccine, easily preventable diseases like measles were emerging in Tigray and COVID-19 had already begun to spread. HIV patients “frequently come to my office to ask if medication is available. But my hands are tied,” he said. Earlier this month, the United Nations said the Ethiopian government had released more than 850,000 measles vaccines for Tigray,

The Ethiopian government cut off almost all access to food aid, medical supplies, cash and fuel last June when Tigray forces regained control of the area. Since then, the United Nations has repeatedly warned that less than 15% of the necessary supplies have entered Tigray under the so-called de facto humanitarian blockade. The Ethiopian government expressed concern about aid falling into the hands of militants.

But under a new wave of pressure this month after Tigray forces retreated back into their area amid a military offensive, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry in a statement Sunday said it was working to Working with aid partners to facilitate daily flights to Tigray “to transport needed medicines and supplies. “The government has partly blamed problems with aid distribution for the insecurity it says is caused by Tigray forces.

It remains unclear when daily flights will begin, although the International Committee of the Red Cross announced on Wednesday that it has made its first shipment of medical supplies to Tigray since September, calling it “a big relief.”

An ICRC spokesman told the AP that the cargo of surgical supplies and essential drugs will help treat at least 200 injured people, and the group plans to send more supplies in the coming days and weeks.

Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu and Health Minister Lia Tadesse did not immediately respond to questions on Thursday about daily flights and when the government blockade will be fully lifted. to allow full access to the area.

The Ethiopian government has sought to limit coverage of the war and detain a number of journalists during the state of emergency, including an AP-accredited freelance videographer, Amir Aman Kiyaro.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. Copyright Registered. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed. Report: More than 5,000 people die during Ethiopia’s Tigray blockade

James Brien

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