World Leaders and Diplomats Are Raising the Alarm: ‘We cannot let Ethiopia starve’

For the second time in less than forty years, northern Ethiopia is re-living their worst nightmare: conflict-induced famine. In July, the U.S. government declared that 900,000 people in Tigray, Ethiopia were experiencing famine conditions, with millions more on the brink of starvation. 

Since then, banks have remained closed; communications have remained cut; fuel, water, medicine, and electricity have been extremely limited; and humanitarians have been largely blocked from reaching those in need.

Presidents, diplomats, UN officials, and NGO leaders from around the world are raising the alarm. Join us and speak out to #StopTigrayFamine.

Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

“We cannot make the same mistake twice. We cannot let Ethiopia starve. We have to act now.”

Linda Thomas Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, June 10, 2021

The crisis in Ethiopia is a “stain on our conscience…people have been eating roots and flowers and plants instead of a normal steady meal. The lack of food will mean that people will start to die.”

Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for OCHA, September 29, 2021

The Security Council should “consider making a visit to Ethiopia and Tigray, to focus attention on the conditions on the ground, and the urgent need for a political, not a military, solution.”

The Elders of Africa, September 8, 2021

“I visited a local staging center for USAID’s food aid not far from the capital. Warehouses were full of wheat and lentils and split peas and trucks lay idle in the mud because deliveries had been backed up for weeks due to ongoing blockades. In my conversation with the Minister of Peace just now, I stressed these values, called yet again for a cessation of hostilities and unfettered humanitarian access, and reiterated the United States’ care and concern for the people of Ethiopia, no matter their identity or affiliation.”

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator, comments from a press conference, August 4, 2021

“Deliberate and repeated hindrances by the [Ethiopian] military and armed groups, the regular looting of humanitarian assistance are driving the population towards mass starvation.”

EU-U.S. Joint Statement on the humanitarian emergency in Tigray, Ethiopia, June 10, 2021

“Several areas in Tigray are on the brink of famine. The situation will only keep getting worse unless needed funding is increased and humanitarian access is improved. The actions we take now may mean the difference between life and death for many people.”

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, June 8, 2021

“Rape is being used systematically to terrorize and brutalize women and girls [in Tigray, Ethiopia]. Aid workers have been killed, interrogated, beaten, blocked from taking aid to the starving and suffering and told not to come back.”

Mark Lowcock, Head of UNOCHA, June 16, 2021

“As a direct result of the conflict, we now are hearing early warnings of famine in Tigray. …The intentional denial of humanitarian access by all sides…is driving a catastrophic downward spiral that will lead to…malnutrition and quite conceivably famine.”

Geraldine Bynre Nason, Irish UN Representative, May 25, 2021


“I urge the Government of Ethiopia to fulfil its responsibility and enhance efforts to prevent further escalation of violence and tensions among communities, which have reached an unprecedented level. This responsibility includes working towards a cessation of the ongoing hostilities.”

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, July 30, 2021

“For Ethiopia […] the toll is getting too high […] It is absolutely worrying and I hope the United States’ new administration, the UN, and others are thinking of how to collaborate with other African states to see what can be achieved together, for the African continent.”

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, February 3, 2021

“I call upon the AU to address the humanitarian and human rights catastrophe that is unfolding in its host country [Ethiopia], and urge the AU Chairperson to lead regional efforts to facilitate a political solution to the Tigray crisis and prevent further instability.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia, June 14, 2021

“The extremely deteriorated humanitarian situation and the need to provide aid to the people of Tigray require strong measures, in notably the lifting of all restrictions on aid delivery.”

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, July 31, 2021

“While hostilities continue, the Ethiopian people continue to suffer and be subjected to mass displacement, a brutal man-made famine, and horrifying atrocities.”

U.S. Representative Sara Jacobs, U.S. Congress, August 9, 2021

“The situation in Ethiopia is quickly evolving. It’s critical that we use this moment to urge all sides to agree on a sustained ceasefire, and allow the unrestricted delivery of humanitarian assistance. The UN Security Council must back efforts to bring peace in Tigray.”

U.S. Senator Ed Markey, U.S. Congress, June 29, 2021

“I’m deeply concerned about reports of Ethiopian forces’ mass detention of Tigrayans. Evidence suggests the conflict is escalating on top of an ongoing humanitarian crisis and widespread famine, and all parties must move towards a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, U.S. Congress, July 14, 2021

“World leaders must open their eyes to the tragedy occurring in Tigray and immediately demand that the Ethiopian government allow food convoys through to prevent horrifying starvation among children.”

U.S. Representative Dean Phillips, U.S. Congress, July 30, 2021

“With widespread atrocities having taken place in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and ongoing concerns about the use of starvation as a weapon of war, it’s essential that the UN Human Rights Council formally address Tigray during its current session.”

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, July 9, 2021

“It is vital that aid workers and medical staff can safely carry out their activities in an environment of trust and facilitation. Humanitarian organisations must be allowed to provide assistance, independently and impartially, according to people’s needs.”

Teresa Sancristoval, Médecins Sans Frontières Operations Director, July 7, 2021

“Over two million people are still beyond the reach of aid [in Tigray, Ethiopia]. All parties to the conflict need to respect international humanitarian law, which clearly specifies the protection of all civilians, and communications channels across Tigray should be urgently reinstated.”

Spokesperson for UK Foreign, Commonwealth, & Development (FCDO), July 1, 2021

Help us #StopTigrayFamine

  • We are mobilizing allies to stop famine and end needless suffering in Tigray. Contact us here if your organization wants to get involved.
  • We are raising the alarm around famine in Tigray. Help us share our #StopTigrayFamine message using our social media toolkit.

Learn more

To read more about the crisis, visit our Stop Tigray Famine campaign here.

BANNER PHOTO CAPTION: A farmer plows land near Geha subcity on June 16, 2021 in Mekele, Ethiopia. Drought conditions, armed conflict, and the recent destruction of crops due to the locust infestation in 2020 have led to increased food insecurity and overall hardship in the region. Photo Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images.