ADDIS ABABA, 18 June 2021 – The United Nations humanitarian chief says the starvation in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is much worse than previously thought.

There is now famine in Tigray, Mark Lowcock told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, according to leaked excerpts of his speech cited Thursday in media reporting.

Mark Lowcock, the United Nations humanitarian chief - Photo Devex.com

Mark Lowcock, the United Nations humanitarian chief – Photo Devex.com

Ethiopia's Tigray Region - Source AFP

Ethiopia’s Tigray – Source AFP

Lowcock spoke during a scheduled briefing Tuesday before the UN Security Council.

The UN humanitarian boss said the situation in Tigray is far worse than hunger and starvation.

Ethiopian government officials insist that there is no famine in the country’s northern parts.

“Rape is being used systematically to terrorize and brutalize women and girls. Eritrean soldiers are using starvation as a weapon of war. Displaced people are being rounded up, beaten, and threatened,” Lowcock told the Security Council.

Millions Face Malnutrition in Tigray - Photo Financial Times

Millions Face Malnutrition in Tigray – Photo Financial Times

He added: “Aid workers have been killed, interrogated, beaten, blocked from taking aid to the starving and suffering and told not to come back. The Tigray administration have reported deaths from starvation”.

A recent assessment of food security in Tigray which described the situation as a “catastrophe” – might be underestimating the gravity of the situation, Lowcock explained.

UN Warns of Alarming Malnutrition in Tigray - Photo GhanaNews

United Nations Humanitarian Chief Warns of Alarming Malnutrition in Tigray – Photo GhanaNews

Tigrayan refugees at a food distribution center at the Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan's eastern Gedaref state - Photo Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP

Tigrayan refugees at a food distribution center at the Um Raquba refugee camp in Sudan’s eastern Gedaref state – Photo Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP

Lowcock decried extrajudicial executions in which, according to him, mostly “young men and teenagers [are] taken, usually at night, and in some cases executed”.

The UN humanitarian boss blamed Eritrean troops for “substantial violations of international humanitarian law”.

According to Lowcock, “millions of people” who are “in urgent need of help are simply not getting any”.

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