Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says it is witnessing concerning signs of a growing food crisis in Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar region.
The area that borders war-torn Tigray has seen an influx of people who have fled the recent conflict – some traveling by foot for more than a month in search of safety.
The organisation says hundreds of thousands of people are living without necessities such as healthcare and safe drinking water.
It adds that dozens of children have died from severe malnutrition. In recent weeks 35 children have died, most within just 48 hours of admission to hospital.
“In two days alone, we saw 41 children admitted to the pediatric ward with severe stomach infections because people are forced to drink from muddy puddles,” said Raphael Veitch, MSF emergency coordinator in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
This year MSF is seeing four times the number of malnourished children compared to last.
The charity says what it is seeing may just be a tip of the iceberg and it is calling for urgent intervention from the humanitarian community.
MSF says the suffering its staff is witnessing in Afar requires an urgent response. According to the organization, only 20% of the healthcare system in this region is operative.
While plans are under way to increase hospital capacity, MSF says ay that rapid action is needed in order to prevent a looming crisis not just in Afar, but across the country.