UN: Humanitarians ready Tigray relief convoys as war stops

In this file photo taken on July 02, 2021 captive Ethiopian soldiers walk towards the Mekele Rehabilitation Center in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — Humanitarians in northern Ethiopia seek the green light to resume aid convoys following the peace accord announcement ending almost two years of war, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.

Humanitarians were making preparations in northern Ethiopia following the peace accord announcement ending two years of war

"Our colleagues are in contact with the government of Ethiopia and others to resume, as soon as possible, the movement of aid convoys and personnel to Mekelle and Shire," said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, referring to cities in the troubled northernmost Tigray region.

Travel by road through the neighboring Afar region into Mekelle, the capital city of Tigray, was halted on Aug 24 because of fighting.

"Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that critical supplies, including food, nutrition items and medicines, are running very low in Tigray," Dujarric said. "We, along with our humanitarian partners, continue to distribute aid using the remaining stocks in the region, and we started to assist those who are currently in accessible areas."

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Last week, about 189,000 newly displaced people in the Northwestern Zone of Tigray were assisted with food, and around 6,000 displaced people from Afar received food assistance in the Southeastern Zone. Food distribution also started in Mekelle last week, targeting about 500,000 people, he said.

In neighboring Amhara and Afar, humanitarian partners continue to respond to humanitarian needs, including in places where displaced people return to their homes, as access has improved allowing humanitarian partners to reach areas that were so far inaccessible, he said.

In Afar, humanitarian partners reached more than 613,000 people, or 94 percent, of the targeted population, with food assistance for the current food distribution round. In Amhara, more than 2.1 million people received food assistance last week, said Dujarric.

However, substantial response gaps remain in other sectors mainly due to a lack of resources, including water, food, non-food items, health, and education support, he noted.

The peace agreement was signed Wednesday in South Africa between the federal government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People's Liberation Front, ending fighting that broke out in November 2020.