A “complex and unpredictable security situation” in Tigray continues to impede the delivery of life-saving assistance to Ethiopia’s northern region, the Deputy UN Spokesperson told journalists on Thursday.
Nearly six months since the conflict between Ethiopian Government security forces and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, most rural areas have remained cut off from communications and electricity, impacting access to health services, water supply and vital assistance, said Farhan Haq.
Meanwhile, he cited the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in saying that the UN and its humanitarian partners “continue to scale up their response, including identification and support to gender-based violence survivors”.
From Tigray to Sudan
Violence and conflict in Tigray have continued unabated since the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive following a rebel attack on a federal army base, while militias from the neighbouring Amhara region joined the fighting.
After returning last week from a visit to the conflict zone in northern Ethiopia, James Elder, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that more than a million people have been displaced.
According to news reports, over 62,000 have fled across the border into Sudan, with humanitarian agencies continually looking to expand assistance to meet the increasing needs for the internally displaced and refugees in both Ethiopia and Sudan.
Awash with need
At the same time, “food insecurity remains dire with an estimated 4.5 million people need food assistance across Tigray”, said Mr. Haq.
Since the end of March, the World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed nearly 9,000 metric tonnes of food, reaching nearly 529,000 people in the North Western and Southern Zones, he said.
WFP have also distributed food to nearly 34,000 people in the towns of Edgahamus and Atsibi and “more than 700,000 people were reached with water trucking services last week”, he continued. “So far, UN partners have reached 285,000 displaced people with shelter and non-food items – only 10 per cent of the targeted population”.
Meanwhile, the preparation of a displacement site in Mekelle with capacity for more than 19,000 people is ongoing, including building shelters, access roads and latrines.
However, the UN Deputy Spokesperson echoed OCHA’s warning that “the response remains inadequate to the needs”.
“Additional capacity, funds, as well as unimpeded and safe access, are needed to scale up to the level needed to respond across Tigray”, he stated.