Aid groups unable to supply Ethiopia’s Tigray region, UN warns

Aid groups unable to supply Ethiopia’s Tigray region, UN warns

Agency says telephone links are still down in the conflict-torn region, putting women, children and the elderly at risk

The UN fears aid will not reach the conflict-torn Tigray region of Ethiopia. Photograph: Eduardo Soteras/AFP/Getty Images

(theguardian)–Aid agencies are unable to restock food, health and other emergency supplies to Ethiopia’s conflict-torn northern Tigray region and it may trigger a refugee crisis, the United Nations has warned. The country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, embarked on a military campaign against the regional ruling group, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, last week after accusing them of attacking a federal military base. Telephone lines to the region were still down, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in its latest report on the crisis. “Transport is not allowed to and from Tigray, as a result of which shortages of basic commodities are reportedly appearing, impacting the most vulnerable first and the most,” UN OCHA said.

Aid groups were also concerned about the protection of children, women, the elderly and the disabled, from the military clashes, UN OCHA said.

The United Nations agency for refugees said it was worried about a refugee emergency if more civilians are forced to flee the fighting.

The UN is negotiating with both sides in the conflict for humanitarian corridors to be opened, Ann Encontre, UNHCR’s representative in Ethiopia, told Reuters in an interview.

Sudan has received more than 10,000 Ethiopian refugees since the fighting started, the Sudanese government said on Wednesday.

Abiy, who at 44 is Africa’s youngest leader, has so far resisted calls by the United Nations, the African Union and others for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations.

There are widespread concerns that the fighting in Tigray could spread to other parts of Africa’s second-most-populous country, and to the rest of Horn of Africa region.

Amhara regional state, which neighbours Tigray and has been backing Abiy, called off planned demonstrations against the Tigrayan ruling party.

“The protest is not timely due to current security concerns,” said the state’s communication office in a statement.