About 350,000 in Ethiopia's Tigray in famine - U.N. analysis

Adan Muez's uncle says the 14-year-old used to be as "strong as a lion".

But having spent months hiding in a cave to escape violence in Ethiopia's Tigray region, he weighs less than 15 kilograms, or under two and a half stone.

An analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups estimates some 350,000 people in the conflict-torn region are in famine conditions.

Adan's uncle, Tadesse Aregawi says they hid in the cave for more than three months.

"We were only eating roasted barley. Six people died and we had to bury them during the evening as it was not possible to do it during the day."

Famine has been declared twice in the last decade, in Somalia in 2011 and South Sudan in 2017.

For famine to be officially declared at least 20% of the population must be suffering extreme food shortages, with one in three children acutely malnourished and two people out of every 10,000 dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease.

The Ethiopian government disputes the analysis from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC.

It says food shortages are not severe and aid is being delivered.

Mitiku Kassa is Ethiopia's aid chief and National Disaster Risk Management Commissioner.

"We don't have any food shortages. So that it is not the time, it is not a position to declare famine in current Tigray Regional State context."

War broke out in November between federal forces and the rebellious Tigray People's Liberation Front.

On Wednesday the U.N.'s spokesperson to the secretary general, Stephane Dujarric, said there had been reports of humanitarian movement being denied and the looting and confiscation of humanitarian assets and supplies by parties to the conflict.

He said several areas of Tigray remain inaccessible.

"Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are at alarming levels."

At a hospital in Adigrat, Adan struggles to breathe.

He weighs a third of the normal weight for a boy his age.

His uncle says Adan hoped to grow up and achieve a good life.

But that due to a lack of food, he is where he is now.

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