Tigray conflict: Food will run out for thousands in Ethiopia without aid relief, UN warns

This video contains distressing images
  • ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports on the UN's warnings over famine conditions in Tigray as new evidence emerges of alleged human rights violations

  • Warning: This report contains footage of dead bodies some viewers may find distressing

Food will run out this week for thousands of Tigrayans caught up in the conflict-torn region, the United Nations has warned, as aid workers continue to struggle to reach the 400,000 people living in famine conditions.

The war in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia broke out last November after the Tigray People's Liberation Front rejected political reforms and captured army bases.

Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting and around two million have been forced to flee their homes.

One woman says she escaped an attack with her baby strapped to her back - she says 11 relatives, and her son, were murdered.

"What hurts most is they didn't even bother to find out whose children they were killing," she told Tigrayan advocacy organisation Irob Anina in an interview.

"They just pulled them out of their beds and killed them. Not a single question asked."

The UN estimates more than five million people now need humanitarian assistance, with some 100,000 children in Tigray at risk of life-threatening malnutrition over the next year.

"The situation is extremely dire. Let's ensure that more can be done because it must be done because otherwise the people will be in grave danger," Neven Crvenkovic, the Ethiopia spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told ITV News.

Residents of Addis Ababa Waving Ethiopia's national flag during a demonstration to protest against the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front Credit: AP

ITV News has obtained new evidence of the aftermath of two alleged massacres related to the conflict.

Amnesty International are calling for urgent investigations into claims of all mass killings. The organisation has also highlighted the rape of thousands of civilians during the conflict.

Aid organisations/NGOs are not only struggling to get in, but their workers are at risk too with 12 having been killed so far during this conflict.

Three organisations, Medecins Sans Frontieres, International Rescue Committee and WFP shared filming with us from Tigray.

Footage of a massacre of at least three dozen men earlier this year has been established to have taken place near Debre Abbay monastery in north-west Tigray.

One of the soldiers, who appears to be wearing an Ethiopian army uniform, is shown speaking with pride about the slaughter of innocent people, it has been claimed.

ITV News understands that the language being spoken is that of ENDF (Ethiopian forces).

Commenting on the video, Fisseha Tekle, an Amnesty researcher for Ethiopia, Eritrea and Nairobi, said: "There is no shame, there is not any kind of attempt to hide it," adding: "They are confident that they will not be held accountable."

The killing is among the many alleged war crimes committed in the bitter conflict, which has seen medical clinics among the infrastructure deliberately targeted.

Recently, Ethiopia’s government accused humanitarian groups of supporting the Tigray forces, making life more dangerous in a region where aid workers have been harassed and at least a dozen killed.

Martin Griffiths, the United Nations humanitarian chief and British diplomat, and US aid head Samantha Power will hold talks in Ethiopia this week to push for urgent access into the Tigray region.

The Ethiopian government has blamed Tigrayan regional forces for blocking aid, saying it had stockpiled reserve wheat in the region.

In a statement to ITV News, the Ethiopian government said it condemns violence against civilians and takes its responsibility to end the suffering of the people of Tigray very seriously. 

It said that the embassy remains deeply concerned by the serious allegations that have arisen from the conflict and condemns any acts of violence towards innocent civilians.

"In line with the government's obligation to uphold the rule of law and bring to account perpetrators of these crimes, investigations by special taskforces are ongoing in the region," the statement added.