“There is now famine in Tigray,” the official told representatives of UN, EU and US organizations on Thursday, warning the situation may be the worst since the 2011 famine in neighboring Somalia, which killed around 260,000 people.
Lowcock said things are “going to get a lot worse”, but added that “the worst can still be avoided” if immediate help is provided for Tigray.
“A re-run of 1984 would have wide-ranging and long-lasting ramifications. My message is don't go there,” he added, referencing the Ethiopian famine of 1983-1985, which resulted in 1 million deaths, according to UN figures.
On Thursday, Reuters reported it had viewed a document presented at the UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee which said 350,000 people in Tigray are at risk of famine.
Millions more people in the region also need “urgent food and agriculture/livelihoods support to avert further slides towards famine,” the report apparently said.
The new details come after Lowcock warned last week of imminent famine conditions in Tigray, saying UN officials are “hearing of starvation-related deaths already.”
This week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said several areas of the region are “on the brink of famine.”