Refugees International Urges Action to Protect Civilians Facing Famine in Tigray

Please see below statement from Refugees International President Eric P. Schwartz: 

“I strongly welcome the visits of USAID Administrator Samantha Power and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths to Ethiopia, where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Tigray are on the brink of starvation amid ongoing conflict. Their visits are an opportunity to remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and to permit safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian relief assistance. But time is running out. 

Already some 900,000 Tigrayans are facing famine conditions, and another 2.4 million are in a ‘critical’ state without immediate and sustained assistance. 

Parties to conflict must immediately cease military operations and ensure full and sustained humanitarian assistance to stave off the worst of famine’s toll on Ethiopia’s people. And they must act quickly while it is still possible to prevent a catastrophe on the scale of Tigray’s 1984–85 famine, which saw as many as 2 million people die of hunger and related illnesses. 

The World Food Programme estimates that at least 600 trucks of food are needed every week to address this burgeoning famine. Yet over the past month, fewer than 50 trucks were allowed into Tigray. Agencies delivering water to displaced people across the region have run out fuel. The World Health Organization is raising the alarm over the absence of even the most basic of medicines. Neither the aid operation nor the 5.2 million who depend on it should be kept on a starvation diet. 

The UN Security Council and African Union must address this crisis like the threat to international peace and security that it truly represents.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Refugees International Director of Communications Sarah Sheffer at or +1 202 540 7029.

PHOTO CAPTION: Ethiopian refugees who fled Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict arrive by bus from Village Eight transit centre near the Ethiopian border at the entrance of Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref state on December 11, 2020. Photo Credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images.