Report: 5,000-plus deaths under Ethiopia's Tigray blockade
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
NAIROBI, Kenya -- 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.
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