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Fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has resulted in a famine that is now affecting more than 400,000 people. 33,000 children were severely malnourished.
A further 1.8m people were on the brink of famine.
Ramesh Rajasingham, the UN's acting humanitarian aid chief told members of the Security Council at a meeting in New York thatthe situation in Tigray had deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks.
The region was experiencing "the worst famine situation we have seen in decades", he said. "Close to 5.2 million people still require humanitarian assistance - the great majority of them women and children."
The UN political affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the meeting that "There is potential for more confrontations and a swift deterioration in the security situation which is extremely concerning."