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Tigray: Over 350,000 folks in Ethiopia’s conflict-ravaged Tigray area are experiencing famine circumstances.

“There is famine in Ethiopia right now,” United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock warned on Thursday.

According to the global Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) system, which evaluates food insecurity and malnutrition around the world, substantial parts of the Tigray region are currently in an “IPC 5 Catastrophe” status — its most severe rating.

As of May 2021, a total of 5.5 million people in Tigray and the neighbouring zones of Amhara and Afar (more than half of the population) are facing “high levels of acute food insecurity” with 353,000 facing catastrophic levels. The situation is expected to worsen through September, the report also says.

A key cause of the desperate food situation in Tigray is conflict, the report found: “This severe crisis results from the cascading effects of conflict, including population displacements, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest and livelihood assets, and dysfunctional or non-existent markets.”