After months of violence, the Ethiopian government has announced a ceasefire. It should enable farmers to cultivate their fields and allow humanitarian organizations to work in Tigray. But for many, this comes too late.
"At least ten former participants of our family strengthening program in Adwa have already died of starvation because aid organizations had no access to the region," reports Erika Dittli, program manager at SOS Children's Villages. The program was a flagship project and was to be handed over to local partners this fall. Almost 600 families affected by poverty have built up an independent existence for themselves and their approximately 1,300 children thanks to further training, the establishment of small businesses and support with childcare. The civil war that has been raging since last fall has wiped out this progress. Worse, families who were already living in poverty are now at risk of starvation. "We want to get aid to the families and children in Adwa immediately now," Dittli stresses. For the planned food aid and emergency shelter, SOS Children's Villages has therefore launched an emergency aid campaign.
According to the UN, 350,000 people in Ethiopia are currently starving. Another two million people face starvation if help does not arrive soon. There have not been so many starving people in one country in more than a decade. "The conditions on the ground are catastrophic, everything is destroyed," Dittli knows. "Many people have fled to the main town of Makalle. We started a first emergency project there in April, when humanitarian organizations gained access to the town." But many farming families are still holding out in the countryside to save their belongings, hoping for help. So far in vain: "Anyone who plowed or sowed was punished, supplies were looted and food transports were stolen," says Dittli. The ceasefire and the new emergency aid project of SOS Children's Villages should now change that.