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Ethiopia's Tigray 'one step from famine' - EU

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Ethiopia

The European Commission on Thursday warned that the Tigray region of Ethiopia could be approaching a famine, as the country's three-month-long conflict continued.

The European Commission on Thursday warned that the Tigray region of Ethiopia could be approaching a famine, as the country's three-month-long conflict continued.

The region is largely cut off from the world as fighting enters a fourth month.

Speaking in Brussels, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said the EU was "extremely concerned" by the situation in Ethiopia, and announced the bloc would be postponing an 88.5 million euro (107 million US dollars) support payment until there was a "cease of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access and an investigation of reported human rights abuses".

"Three months into the conflict in Tigray, the EU is still extremely concerned by the situation in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is an important EU partner in the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia is one of the few countries with whom the EU has a strategic engagement. Our decision to postpone the disbursement of three budget support payments for a total amount of 88.5 million euros (107 million US dollars) must be seen in that context. Where we are asking for a cease of hostilities, unhindered humanitarian access and an investigation of reported human rights abuses. As time passes by, let me be clear, colleagues, the humanitarian situation is getting dangerously critical. The newly established administration in Tigray stated mid-January that over 4.5 million people were in need of emergency food assistance, of whom 2.2 million were internally displaced persons with other basic needs," said Urpilainen.

"The humanitarian situation is getting dangerously critical," she said.

Urpilainen also said the bloc would be allocating 70 million euros (84 million US dollars) to support the Sudanese government in aiding refugees who had crossed over into its territory to escape the conflict in Tigray.