Hostility, airstrikes hamper aid delivery in northern Ethiopia: UN


In this file photo taken on June 19, 2021 People who fled the violence in Ethiopia's Tigray region wait to receive injeras, Ethiopia's staple food of sour fermented flatbread, from their kitchen as only meal of the day at May Weyni secondary school, now hosting 10500 displaced people as an IDP camp, in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region.

Photo credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP

United Nations

In addition to increasing needs, continued fighting in northern Ethiopia - including airstrikes - affects the means to deliver that relief, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday.

The office said that airstrikes have been intensifying in several Tigray region locations since the start of the year, reportedly causing significant civilian casualties. Aid partners temporarily restricted their movement and activities in northwestern Tigray, except for Shire Town, due to the airstrikes.

Once some aid movement resumed, the office said the lack of fuel severely limited the response.

 "Fighting around Abala, on the Tigray-Afar border, is hindering our ability to bring aid into Tigray. There have been no deliveries of assistance into Tigray since Dec. 14."

No fuel trucks have entered the Tigray region since August 2, 2021, OCHA said, meaning that many humanitarian partners are mainly working close to urban areas with little or no travel outside. The office said that relief organisations providing food assistance do not have enough fuel to distribute even the limited food stocks available in Tigray.

Organisations providing nutrition assistance warn that activities will soon stop without additional fuel. Humanitarians repeatedly plead that 100 aid trucks are needed daily for Tigray relief.

While insecurity also constrains humanitarian operations in parts of the neighbouring Amhara region, the relief response is scaling up as more areas become accessible, OCHA said. United Nations and non-governmental organisations partners provided food to more than 250,000 people last week.

The office said that more than 47,000 people also received emergency shelter and non-food items in the past week. At least a few hundred thousand displaced people are estimated to have returned to their homes over the last three weeks.

They reportedly need essential assistance and emergency shelter support. In the Afar region, east of Tigray, the humanitarian response continues with about 330,000 people provided with food assistance in the current distribution round, OCHA said.