Humanitarian Activities Thwarted in Tigray Region: UN

By Staff Reporter

UN-OCHA-TigrayNovember 18, 2020 ( -- The United Nations said humanitarian activities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have been thwarted, threatening food insecurity among millions of people due to the ongoing conflict in the region.

Roads to the Tigray region remain blocked due to the conflict in the region and humanitarian partners are warning that humanitarian supplies will soon be exhausted, putting millions at risk of food insecurity and disease, among other challenges," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a release.

"I am increasingly concerned about the evolving humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia and neighboring areas," Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement.

"Even before the current hostilities, nearly a million people in Tigray, and millions more who live in close proximity to its regional and national boundaries, were in need of humanitarian assistance," he said

"The current situation is heightening the needs and the vulnerability of local people," he said. "It is disrupting the work of the UN and other humanitarian organizations. I call for full access to reach people in need wherever they are; safe passage for civilians seeking assistance; and the security of aid workers."

A Humanitarian Preparedness Plan targeting 1.98 million people with multi-sector assistance in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions has been finalized, OCHA said.

Humanitarian agencies are urging donors to rapidly fund the plan so that once access is granted, the response can quickly begin.

The spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters at a regular briefing that UN humanitarian partners in Ethiopia report the first group of non-essential United Nations and non-governmental staff who were evacuated from Tigray, through the Afar region, arrived safely in Addis Ababa Monday night.

A second group arrived in Semera in Afar Tuesday morning, after a short delay due to insecurity concerns. Approximately 400 staff and foreign nationals have been relocated from Tigray.

The UN resident coordinators and their teams in the Horn of Africa are deeply concerned with the situation in Ethiopia and reiterate the secretary-general's call this month to de-escalate tensions.

"Our UN teams in four countries -- Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and Djibouti -- are working with authorities to address the needs of the most affected people," Dujarric said. "In Ethiopia, the UN team is particularly concerned about the plight of some of the most vulnerable households in the Tigray. It is also concerned with the movement of people and the risk this entails for the spread of COVID-19."

He said that since the beginning of the conflict on Nov. 4, communications have broken down, interrupting access to health facilities.

The UN Refugee Agency is warning that a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding as 4,000 refugees daily flee from fighting in the Tigray region into eastern Sudan. More than 30,000 refugees Tigrayans fled to Sudan since the conflict began early this November.

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