UN warns of worsening famine amid conflict in Ethiopia’s Tirgay region

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The United Nations warned Friday of a worsening famine amid conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Officials gave the warning during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, the first since the conflict erupted in the region eight months ago.

U.N. officials said that 400,000 people have crossed the threshold for famine, and another 1.8 million are on the brink of famine as well.

Fighting broke out in November between the Ethiopian government and fighters with Tigray’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, according to Reuters.

On Monday, the Ethiopian government declared a ceasefire in the region, but the rebels have not agreed to it.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday that a ceasefire could be “a positive step if it results in changes on the ground to end the conflict, stop the atrocities, and allow unhindered humanitarian assistance.”

Taye Atske Selassie Amde, Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, told reporters on Friday that the ceasefire is “not to make a siege, it is to save lives,” Reuters reported.

The U.N. says that about 1.7 million people have been displaced since the fighting, with 60,000 refugees crossing the border into Sudan.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council on Friday that the government has to show that it “truly intends to use the ceasefire to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray,” according to a transcript of her remarks.

She further called for both sides to negotiate a “true ceasefire,” and for the Tigrayan fighters to “demonstrate that they will abide by international humanitarian law and work peacefully and within legal frameworks toward a peaceful solution.”

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