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A child sits on his bed at the Ayder Referral Hospital in in the Tigray capital Mekele on February 25, after being injured during a fight in Tigray with the Tigray People's Liberation Front. Photo: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images

More than 350,000 people in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray are experiencing "catastrophic" famine, with millions more at risk, according to the United Nations.

Why it matters: It is the highest number of people living in famine since 2011, when around 250,000 people died of hunger in Somalia, per a report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification — responsible for evaluating food insecurity around the world.

Details: The IPC system has placed parts of the Tigray region in "IPC 5" status — its most severe. The agency states that in those locations "[s]tarvation, death, destitution, and extremely critical acute malnutrition levels are evident."

  • Several UN agencies estimate that more than 5.5 million people in Tigray and some surrounding areas are facing high levels of acute food insecurity. Of these, 2 million people are in "IPC 4," suffering from high malnutrition that could turn to starvation.

What they're saying: "The brutal reality for our staff in Tigray is that for every family we reach with life-saving food, there are countless more, especially in rural areas, whom we cannot reach," said David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme.

  • "We have appealed for humanitarian access but are still being blocked by armed groups. The ability of people in Tigray to access vital services and for WFP to reach them with food assistance is essential to avoid a catastrophe," he added.
  • "[W]ithout humanitarian access to scale up our response, an estimated 33,000 severely malnourished children in currently inaccessible areas in Tigray are at high risk of death. The world cannot permit that to happen," said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF.

Catch up quick: Fighting between the Ethiopian government and the region's former ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, started last November. "The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 2 million from their homes in the mountainous region," Reuters writes.

Go deeper

1 in 5 Latino households had to skip meals in 2020, report finds

A volunteer at a food bank in Santa Barbara County, Calif., fills up a car with groceries in April. Photo: Daniel Dreifuss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One in five Latino households with children in the U.S. had to skip meals during 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

State of play: Latino and Black households were more likely not to have enough to eat during 2020 than they were in 2019, per USDA’s annual Household Food Security report.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.