Report: 5,000-plus deaths under Ethiopia’s Tigray blockade

Jan 26, 2022, 12:15 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2022, 12:21 pm
FILE - An Ethiopian woman scoops up portions of yellow split peas to be allocated to waiting famili...

FILE - An Ethiopian woman scoops up portions of yellow split peas to be allocated to waiting families after it was distributed by the Relief Society of Tigray in the town of Agula, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, on May 8, 2021. Nearly 1,500 people died of malnutrition in just part of Ethiopia's blockaded Tigray region over a four-month period between July and October 2021, according to a new report published in Jan. 2022 by the region's health bureau. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

(AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

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

“Deaths are alarmingly increasing,” including from easily preventable diseases like rabies as medicines run out or expire, the head of Tigray’s health bureau, Hagos Godefay, told The Associated Press late last year as the findings were being compiled. “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, says 5,421 deaths were confirmed in Tigray between July and October in an assessment by his bureau and some international aid groups. It was the first such assessment since the war between Tigray and Ethiopian forces began in November 2020, he said.

The deaths were overwhelmingly from malnutrition, infectious disease and noncommunicable diseases as the health bureau and partners sought to gauge the effects on Tigray’s population of its health system being largely destroyed by combatants.

The deaths do not reflect people killed in combat, Hagos told the AP on Thursday in a call from the Tigray capital, Mekele, though the report reflects a small percentage of deaths from airstrikes.

The mortality assessment covered just roughly 40% of Tigray, he said, since occupation of some areas by combatants and the lack of fuel caused by the blockade has limited data-gathering and aid delivery.

“Since the magnitude of the destruction and health crisis in the inaccessible areas is undoubtedly high, the survey is bound to underreport the real extent of the crisis,” Hagos wrote.

Severe acute malnutrition in children under 5, at less than 2% in Tigray before the war, was now above 7%, he said. The assessment found at least 369 children under 5 had died of malnutrition, part of 1,479 people in all.

The AP last year confirmed the first starvation deaths under the blockade along with the government’s ban on humanitarian workers bringing medicines. even personal ones, into Tigray,

Hagos told the AP that without medical supplies or vaccines, easily preventable disease like measles were emerging in Tigray and COVID-19 has begun to spread. HIV patients “are coming all the time to my office to ask if drugs are coming or not. But my hands are tied,” he said. Earlier this month, the United Nations said Ethiopia’s government had released over 850,000 measles vaccines to Tigray.

Ethiopia’s government cut off almost all access to food aid, medical supplies, cash and fuel in June last year when the Tigray forces regained control of the region. Since then, the United Nations has repeatedly warned that less than 15% of the needed supplies have been entering Tigray under what it called a de facto humanitarian blockade. Ethiopia’s government has expressed concern about aid falling into the hands of fighters.

But under a new wave of pressure this month after Tigray forces retreated back into their region amid a military offensive, Ethiopia’s foreign ministry in a statement on Sunday said it was working with aid partners to facilitate daily cargo flights to Tigray “to transport much-needed medicines and supplies.” The government in part has blamed issues with aid delivery on insecurity it says is caused by Tigray forces.

It is not clear when the daily flights will begin, though the International Committee of the Red Cross on Wednesday announced that it had made its first delivery of medical supplies to Tigray since September, calling it “a huge relief.”

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

Ethiopian government spokesman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to questions on Thursday about the daily flights and when the government’s blockade would be lifted completely to allow full access to the region.

Ethiopia’s health minister, Lia Tadesse, in a message to the AP said the increase in flights is due to the challenge of delivering by land because of the conflict, not a blockade.

“Additionally, critically needed medicines and supplies including vaccines and emergency drugs that partners do not have at hand but (the ministry) has are on process to be sent through partners,” she said.

The U.N. has indicated that time is running out. “Aid organizations have warned that operations could cease completely by the end of February in Tigray,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday.

Ethiopia’s government has sought to restrict reporting on the war and detained some journalists under the state of emergency, including a video freelancer accredited to the AP, Amir Aman Kiyaro.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks on a screen inside a so-called Russian War Crimes Ho...
Associated Press

Climate to conflict, Davos’ post-COVID return has full plate

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Davos — the hub of an elite annual gathering in the Swiss Alps — is back, more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic kept its business gurus, political leaders and high-minded activists away. There’s no shortage of urgent issues for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting to tackle. With their […]
1 day ago
Chicago police work the scene at the scene of a shooting near East Chicago Avenue and North State S...
Associated Press

Two men charged in fatal Chicago shopping district shooting

CHICAGO (AP) — Two men have been charged in a shooting that left two people dead and seven injured outside a fast food restaurant just blocks from Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile shopping district. Jaylun Sanders, 21, of Chicago, faces two counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of first-degree attempted murder and other charges, Chicago police […]
1 day ago
Dan Gabel, right, and fellow musicians perform in downtown Boston, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Gabel has...
Associated Press

Consumers defy inflation to support economy. For how long?

WASHINGTON (AP) — With prices across the economy — from food, gas and rent to cars, airfares and hotel rooms — soaring at their fastest pace in decades, you might think Americans would tap the brakes on spending. Not so far. Consumers as a whole are showing surprising resilience, not only sustaining their spending but […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Pakistan police arrest 6 men over ‘honor killing’ of sisters

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police arrested six men from the same family on Sunday, accused of murdering two sisters who were from the same village but also had Spanish citizenship. Police said that Urooj Abbas, 21, and Anisa Abbas, 23, were allegedly killed for refusing to bring their husbands — cousins from forced marriages […]
1 day ago
Actor Johnny Depp waves as he leaves the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fair...
Associated Press

Heard’s lawyers try to poke holes in Depp’s libel lawsuit

Attorneys for actor Amber Heard spent much of last week trying to portray her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, as a jealous and drunken abuser who can only blame himself for his nose-diving Hollywood career. Since Heard concluded her testimony in a Virginia courtroom Tuesday, her lawyers have presented witness testimony from people who were once close […]
1 day ago
A view of Davos and its congress center prior to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Sw...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What are the key climate themes at Davos?

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — While the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine will be focuses of the World Economic Forum’s gathering of business and government leaders, so too will climate change. It’s captured the world’s attention in unignorable and devastating ways. The acceleration of rising temperatures, the ferocity and costliness of major weather events, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Report: 5,000-plus deaths under Ethiopia’s Tigray blockade