(Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia suspended the activities of two humanitarian organizations working in the war-torn Tigray region as the conflict in the north of the country enters its ninth month.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, one of only a handful of experienced international groups providing frontline health care to people in conflict areas, said it was told to cease their operations by the government late last month. The Norwegian Refugee Council, which provides assistance to nearly 600,000 people in six regions across Ethiopia, was given similar orders.

“We are in the process of urgently seeking clarification from the authorities around the reasons and details for this suspension,” MSF said in a statement on Tuesday.

Billene Seyoum, a spokeswoman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, did not immediately respond to questions.

The decision to stop the work of the two groups comes as hundreds of thousands of people face starvation in the Tigray region. Food aid is urgently needed and the United Nations has said life-saving interventions should be scaled up, with the government allowing unimpeded access to those in need.

Ongoing Conflict

Tigray has been engulfed in conflict since last November, when federal troops retaliated to an attack by regional soldiers on an army base. The violence has since spilled into the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions as Tigray forces seek to push back against their adversaries following gains in June and July.

Jeremy Taylor, a spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the organization has suspended its operations in Ethiopia.

The government “justified the suspension by arguing that NRC had spread false information on social media and failed to obtain the appropriate permissions for international staff working in country,” he said in an interview.

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