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Tigray crisis: A new ‘famine’ in Ethiopia

Published: 21st Jun, 2021

The hundreds of thousands in Tigray, Ethiopia are facing famine, and millions more are at risk.


The hundreds of thousands in Tigray, Ethiopia are facing famine, and millions more are at risk.

  • The conflict that began between Ethiopia’s federal government and the ruling party in the Tigray region has since blown up into a full scale crisis in the Horn of Africa.


About Tigray crisis

  • The Tigray War is an ongoing armed conflict that began in November 2020 in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.
  • The war has spawned massacres, gang rapes and the widespread expulsion of people from their homes, and the United States has declared “ethnic cleansing” in western Tigray.
  • Now, on top of those atrocities, Tigrayans face another urgent problem: hunger and starvation.


  • Tigray is Ethiopia's northernmost region.
  • Bordering Eritrea, it is home to most of the country's estimated7 million ethnic Tigrayans.
  • The ethnic group, which accounts for about 6% of Ethiopia's population, have had an outsized influence in national affairs.

Famine conditions

  • According to the IPC analysis, famine conditions in Tigray are in phase 5.
  • Approximately 350,000 people out of Tigray’s 6 million population are experiencing famine.
  • This was the result of several factors rooted in the ongoing military conflict.
  • Eritrean forces that joined the conflict in support of Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed have been accused of destroying property, burning crops, destroying health facilities, and preventing farmers from ploughing their land. 

Integrated Phase Classification

  • The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is an innovative multi-partner initiative for improving food security and nutrition analysis and decision-making.
  • By using the IPC classification and analytical approach, Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs, civil society and other relevant actors, work together to determine the severity and magnitude of acute and chronic food insecurity, and acute malnutrition situations in a country, according to internationally-recognized scientific standards.
  • The IPC was originally developed in 2004 to be used in Somalia by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU).

IPC Acute Food Insecurity Phase Descriptions (Area)

  • PHASE 1: Minimal: Households are able to meet essential food and non-food needs without engaging in atypical and unsustainable strategies to access food and income.
  • PHASE 2: Stressed: Households have minimally adequate food consumption but are unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures without engaging in stress-coping strategies.
  • PHASE 3: Crisis: Households either:- Have food consumption gaps that are reflected by high or above-usual acute malnutrition; OR- Are marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies.
  • PHASE 4: Emergency: Households either:- Have large food consumption gaps which are reflected in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality; OR- Are able to mitigate large food consumption gaps but only by employing emergency livelihood strategies and asset liquidation.
  • PHASE 5: Famine: Households have an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even after full employment of coping strategies.

Starvation, death, destitution, and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels are evident. (For Famine Classification, area needs to have extreme critical levels of acute malnutrition and mortality.)

Verifying, please be patient.

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