Mary's Meals has launched an urgent drive to help vulnerable, displaced people in Tigray
Mary’s Meals has launched an urgent appeal to provide critical support to children and adults fleeing violence in the semi-arid Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Brutal fighting has forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes and now millions are living in fear of imminent starvation. The region’s capital, Mekelle, is being overwhelmed by displaced and traumatised people arriving every day. Many are unaccompanied children who have lost their parents.
The school feeding charity normally serves nutritious meals to more than 24,000 vulnerable children in the region. However, since fighting broke out Mary’s Meals is appealing for donations so it can meet the immediate needs of vulnerable people who have been left devastated by the crisis.
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of Mary’s Meals, said: “The people of Tigray are facing a truly catastrophic humanitarian disaster. When talking to our friends and partners there, the conversation returns repeatedly to their fear of starvation. Amongst the displaced people seeking shelter are many unaccompanied children – and it pains us to think of the plight of the thousands of children who before this crisis were eating Mary’s Meals in school each day.
“We are determined to do whatever we can to support our incredible partners there who are already providing vital emergency help to those in desperate need – and, with them, help keep people alive until the time when children can return to school and we can resume our normal Mary’s Meals school feeding programme.”
Fighting in the area began in November last year, with a United Nations report now describing the humanitarian crisis as ‘very severe’ and local authorities estimating that some 4.5 million people (out of the region’s population of six million) are now facing a critical lack of food and other basic supplies.
Communities have lived through nearly three months of conflict without adequate access to food, water, and health services. Covid-19 is also spreading amongst the displaced population and the region has been cut off from essential food imports. This, coupled with the impact of insecurity on the harvest, leaves many at risk of starvation.
MacFarlane-Barrow said: “The people of Tigray desperately need our help. We will do whatever is needed to reach as many people as possible with life-saving supplies. But we need funds to do this."
A representative from the charity's partner organisation in Ethiopia, who cannot be named for security reasons, commented on the conflict, saying: “Meeting the basic needs of these people is the number one priority. We see people without food, without shelter, without medical supplies, and if they are not supported with these necessities then their fate is obviously to die. It’s a matter of life and death.”
Mary’s Meals is reaching more than 1.6 million hungry children in 19 of the poorest countries with a nutritious daily meal. The promise of food attracts impoverished children to the classroom, where they can gain an education that will one day be their ladder out of poverty.
To donate, please visit marysmeals.org.uk/crisis-in-ethiopia or phone 0800 698 1212.