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Determined reporting exposes severe hunger in Tigray region

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Determined reporting by AP East Africa correspondent Cara Anna revealed for the first time full extent of severe, widespread hunger and threat of starvation in Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray region, which has been under attack by government forces for more than two months.

With Tigray virtually cut off from the rest of the world and our local journalist under extreme pressure from the Ethiopian government, Anna set out to report from Nairobi. She reached out to the few aid organizations able to operate in Tigray and to refugees who had fled the conflict to neighboring Sudan; they described acute malnutrition bordering on famine.

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The Tigray region in Ethiopia. More than 4.5 million people, or nearly the entire population, need emergency food. – AP

Building on these contacts, Anna obtained minutes of Ethiopian government meetings in which the government’s own officials warned of imminent, widespread starvation threatening hundreds of thousands of civilians. She also sourced satellite images that showed aid warehouses in the region destroyed during the conflict.

Her fact-based, compelling description of the desperate situation in Tigray was the first comprehensive reporting by any news organization to pull all these elements together. The story won prominent play in major news outlets and was hailed as an important exposé by international agencies and authorities, including the United Nations.

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U.N. World Food Program warehouses at the Shimelba refugee camp in Ethiopia’s Tigray region are shown at left on Dec. 10, 2020, and at right on Jan. 5, 2021 after storage facilities were destroyed in the region’s monthslong conflict with Ethiopian government forces. Food supplies have been a target in the conflict, experts say. – 2021 Planet Labs, Inc via AP
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