News ID: 277624
Published: 0349 GMT December 02, 2020

UN, Ethiopia sign deal for aid access to embattled Tigray

UN, Ethiopia sign deal for aid access to embattled Tigray

In a breakthrough a month after deadly conflict cut off Ethiopia’s Tigray region from the world, the United Nations on Wednesday said it and the Ethiopian government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access, at least for areas under federal government control after the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the weekend.

This will allow the first food, medicine and other aid into the region of six million people that has seen rising hunger during the fighting between the federal and Tigray regional governments. Each regards the other as illegal in a power struggle that has been months in the making, AP reported.

For weeks, the UN and others have pleaded for access amid reports of supplies running desperately low for millions of people.

“We are of course working to make sure assistance will be provided in the whole region and for every single person who needs it,” Saviano Abreu, a UN humanitarian spokesman said. The UN and partners are committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” to ensure that aid to Tigray and the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions is “strictly based on needs” and according to the principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality.

For weeks, aid-laden trucks have been blocked at Tigray’s borders, and the UN and other humanitarian groups were increasingly anxious to reach Tigray as hunger grows and hospitals run out of basic supplies like gloves and body bags.

“We literally have staff reaching out to us to say they have no food for their children,” one humanitarian worker said.

More than one million people in Tigray are now thought to be displaced, including over 45,000 who have fled into a remote area of neighboring Sudan. Humanitarians have struggled to feed them as they set up a crisis response from scratch.

Communications and transport links remain almost completely severed to Tigray, and the fugitive leader of the defiant regional government this week said that fighting continues despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s declaration of victory.

For weeks, the UN and others have been increasingly insistent on the need to reach some 600,000 people in Tigray who already were dependent on food aid even before the conflict.

Now those needs have exploded, but Abiy has resisted international pressure for dialogue and de-escalation, saying his government will not “negotiate our sovereignty.” His government regards the Tigray regional government, which dominated Ethiopia’s ruling coalition for more than a quarter-century, as illegitimate after months of growing friction as he sought to centralize power.





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