UNITED NATIONS — With access choked, food stocks and fuel almost exhausted, aid distribution in the Tigray region of Ethiopia is at an all-time low, UN humanitarians said on Friday.
“We are now past the 100-day mark with no relief truck going into Tigray,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
“The distribution of food assistance has fallen to its lowest levels since humanitarian operations were originally scaled up last March.” Since mid-December, hostilities in the Afar region east of Tigray closed the Semera-Abala route into Tigray’s regional capital of Mekelle, the office said. Although aircraft ferried 221.8 metric tons of medical supplies to Tigray, it is only 4 percent of the medications required. As the lack of food challenges relief distribution, the lack of fuel limits local delivery of aid, especially in remote areas, OCHA said. Since March 10, there has not been an authorization for cash transfers.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the Ethiopian government’s declaration on Thursday of an indefinite humanitarian truce, effective immediately, said Stephane Dujarric, his chief spokesman.
Tigrayan authorities also committed to a cessation of hostilities effective immediately.
“The conflict in Ethiopia has caused terrible suffering for millions of people across Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Benishangul Gumz and Oromia,” Dujarric said. “These positive developments must now translate into immediate improvements on the ground.”
The spokesman said Guterres “reiterates his call for the restoration of public services in Tigray, including banking, electricity and telecommunications, and calls for all sides to proactively enable and facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance across all affected areas.”
OCHA said that only about 68,000 people in Mekelle and Enderta received some available food supplies last week, although not a complete package. More than ten times as many people should receive a full package of assistance weekly.
The office said the United Nations and partners provide critical assistance to people affected by conflict in Afar and the Amhara region, south of Tigray. More than 125,000 people in Afar have received food assistance since late February.
In Amhara, OCHA said the United Nations and partners provided food assistance to more than 425,000 people in the past two weeks in Wag Hemra, North and South Wollo, and South Gondar zones.
The government assisted a further 400,000 people in conflict-affected areas. The office said that more than 8 million people had received food assistance under the current distribution round since late December.