WFP Executive Director: Immediate Access for Lifesaving Food Deliveries in Tigray is Critical

Photo: WFP/Arete/Joost Bastmeijer
Published June 10, 2021

ROME – Alarming new data has today confirmed the magnitude of the hunger emergency gripping Tigray, where at least 4 million people face severe hunger and 350,000 of them are facing famine. The lack of information on people’s food security in western Tigray in the IPC analysis is also deeply worrying.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has swiftly mounted an emergency food assistance operation deploying more than 180 staff and increasing food distributions to reach 1.4 million people, yet that is barely half of the number we should be reaching.  Other agencies are also struggling to reach many of the rest of Tigray’s hungry.

The brutal reality for our staff in Tigray is that for every family we reach with lifesaving food, there are countless more especially in rural areas whom we cannot reach. We have appealed for humanitarian access but are still being blocked by armed groups.

The ability of people in Tigray to access vital services and for the U.N. World Food Programme to reach them with food assistance is essential to avoid a catastrophe. Access must be extended well beyond major cities to reach people in desperate need wherever they may be, with adequate assistance and without delay.

Violence and conflict are allowing hunger to tighten its grip on millions of Tigrayans who have been forced to flee their homes. Our teams tell me that in 53 villages they visited, 50 percent of mothers and almost a quarter of children they’ve been screening are malnourished. Millions of people urgently need food.  Without it, many of them will die.

Three things are needed to prevent hunger from claiming millions of lives in Tigray: a ceasefire, unimpeded access for the U.N. World Food Programme and partners to all areas, and the money to expand our operations to meet the growing numbers of people who desperately need emergency food assistance. 

#                   #                   #

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.