Thursday, September 2, 2021 9:07 pm
By Cecilia Ologunagba
The aid crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is worsening, with stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel “running very low or depleted”, the UN warned on Thursday.
Since July 12, less than 10 per cent of the trucks that should have reached desperate populations affected by months of fighting have managed to get through, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
It noted that the only access route to Tigray, via Afar region using the Semera-Abala corridor, had been inaccessible since the 22nd of August.
Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks of food, non-food items, and fuel need to enter Tigray every day to sustain an adequate response.
OCHA also highlighted that in addition to food, a minimum of 200,000 litres of fuel was required for the humanitarian response every week.
But since July 12, only 282,000 litres had reached Tigray and none since Aug. 16.
The UN agency pointed out that around $7 million dollars was needed every week to sustain humanitarian operations in Tigray – equivalent to 300 million birr in local currency – including for staff salaries, local procurement, and cash-based assistance.
But only 47 million birr has been brought in since July 12, it said.
The spill over of a 10-month long conflict between Ethiopian troops and the Tigray Defence Force into neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, continues to affect civilians, resulting in food insecurity, displacements, and the disruption of livelihoods.
Some 1.7 million people are estimated to be facing food insecurity in Afar and Amhara.
At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warning that 100,000 face severe acute malnutrition within the year.
In a statement, acting Humanitarian Coordinator in Tigray, Grant Leaity, said that in accordance with international humanitarian law, “all parties to the conflict must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian relief to avert this looming catastrophe.”
“They must also respect and protect all humanitarian personnel and assets,” he added.
“In particular, the Government of Ethiopia must allow and facilitate the unimpeded entry into the country, as well as movement within the country, of humanitarian relief personnel, supplies and equipment, including cash and fuel, whether over land, water or by air”, the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted him as saying..
He also urged the government to restore essential services, including electricity, communications, and banking services, as well as the flow of essential commercial commodities into Tigray.
“The lives of millions of civilians in Tigray and neighbouring regions in Afar and Amhara depend on our capacity to reach them with food, nutrition supplies, medicine and other critical assistance.
“We need to reach them immediately and without obstruction to avert famine and significant levels of mortality”, Leaity said.