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UN 'extremely concerned' by Tigray humanitarian situation

The UN's World Food Programme called for unimpeded access into Tigray to reach the four million people facing acute food insecurity and needing emergency assistance

AFP , Friday 23 Jul 2021
Tigray, Ethiopia
Children and other congregants pray during a Sunday morning service of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church at the Church of St. Mary in Mekele, in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia Sunday, May 9, 2021. AP
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The United Nations said Friday it was "extremely concerned" at the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, where severe shortages of food and supplies are taking their toll.

The UN's World Food Programme called for unimpeded access into Tigray to reach the four million people facing acute food insecurity and needing emergency assistance.

"The WFP is extremely concerned," the organisation's spokesman Tomson Phiri told reporters in Geneva Friday.

"The humanitarian response in the region continues to be challenged by a severe lack of sufficient food and other humanitarian supplies, limited communication services and no commercial supply chain."

He said the WFP had delivered food assistance to more than 730,000 people in parts of the south and northwest of Tigray in the past month.

That figure includes 40,000 people in the Zana area who were reached with food assistance for the first time.

The agency hopes to reach a further 80,000 people in the northwest in the coming days.

"Once this is completed, food stocks in the northwest are likely to run out," said Phiri.

People in Zana "had been completely cut off and living in dire conditions", he added.

"These are people who have been displaced and now shelter in schools and other impromptu shelters."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to oust the region's ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, a move he said was in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

Though the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate declared victory later that month, TPLF leaders remained on the run and fighting dragged on.

Phiri said a WFP-led convoy of more than 200 trucks carrying food and other essential humanitarian supplies was on standby in Ethiopia and was expected to depart for Tigray once security clearances are assured.

"WFP renews its call for faster, free and unimpeded access into Tigray to reach millions in need of life-saving food," he said.

Phiri said the WFP's target was to reach 2.1 million people who are at risk in Tigray.

He said it had been projected that more than 400,000 people would be suffering from catastrophic levels of hunger from July onwards.

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