100,000 children in Ethiopia’s Tigray face deadly hunger, says UN

The United Nations children's agency stated that on Friday that more than 100,000 children in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray could suffer life-threatening malnutrition in the next 12 months, a 10-fold increase to normal numbers.

Featured image (File Pic)
Featured image (File Pic)

Ethiopia: The United Nations children’s agency stated that on Friday that more than 100,000 children in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray could suffer life-threatening malnutrition in the next 12 months, a 10-fold increase to normal numbers.

UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado noted that one-in-two pregnant and breastfeeding women screened in Tigray were acutely malnourished.

“Our worst fears regarding the health and well-being of children… are being confirmed,” she said in a briefing in Geneva.

A spokesperson for the prime minister and a government task force on Tigray – where fighting among rebellious regional and federal forces have continued since November – did not immediately reply to requests for comment on UNICEF’s report.

Babies like 20-month-old Aammanuel Merhawi are undergoing the most. He is a 3rd below normal weight for his age. His burning eyes glisten, and his ribs are visible as he heaves, vomiting additional food fed through a nasal tube. All are symptoms of severe malnutrition.

“My milk dried up,” his mother, Brkti Gebrehiwot, told a news agency at Wukro General Hospital in northern Tigray on July 11.

Helping agencies say they are about to run out of the formula used to treat 4,000 severely malnourished children every month.

At least 3 children have died in Wukro hospital since February, nurse Tsehaynesh Gebrehiwot said.

She gave their medical records: four-month-old Awet Gebreslassie weighed 2.6 kilogrammes (5.7 lb), a third of normal weight; one-year-old Robel Gebrezgiher weighed 2 kgs, less than a quarter of normal weight; and Kisanet Hogue, also a year old, weighed 5 kgs – just over half of normal weight. All died within days of admission.

In Adigrat General Hospital further north, New agency saw medical records confirming the death of three more malnourished children.

Doctors in both hospitals said they witnessed between four to 10 critically malnourished children monthly before the conflict erupted in November. Now numbers have higher than doubled.

The United Nations said that around 400,000 people live in famine conditions in Tigray, and more than 90 per cent of the residents need emergency food aid.