Aid convoy enters territory controlled by Tigray forces in Ethiopia – WFP

REUTERS

Ethiopia
People stand in line to receive food donations, at the Tsehaye primary school, which was turned into a temporary shelter for people displaced by conflict, in the town of Shire, Tigray region, Ethiopia, March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Trucks carrying aid entered Ethiopian territory controlled by Tigrayan forces on Friday for the first time since Dec. 15, the United Nations food agency said on Twitter on Friday.

The United Nations has said more than 90% of the 5.5 million Tigrayans need food aid.

“Just arrived in Erepti and will soon cross into Tigray, bringing in over 500 metric tonnes of urgently needed WFP/partner food and nutrition supplies for communities on edge of starvation,” World Food Programme Ethiopia, a U.N. agency, said on its Twitter account.

“We expect to be in Mekelle soon. Another convoy with over 1,000 metric tonnes of food is arriving into Northern Afar this afternoon to deliver to communities in dire need…,” it said.

Mekelle is the capital of the Tigrayan region. Erepti is one of six districts in the neighbouring Afar region that is currently controlled by Tigrayan forces.

The WFP says malnutrition and food insecurity are rampant in northern Ethiopia, where an estimated 9 million people across the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions need critical food assistance due to conflict.

The U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report on Thursday that food stocks in Tigray were “minimal” and as a result humanitarian workers had cut back or even halted their operations.

War broke out in the Tigray region in November 2020. It pits Ethiopia’s government and its allies against rebellious Tigrayan forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party that controls the Tigray region.

Last week, Ethiopia’s government declared an immediate, unilateral truce in its conflict with the TPLF forces to allow aid into Tigray, although it was not clear how it would enforce it. read more

Tigrayan forces said they would respect the ceasefire as long as sufficient aid was delivered to their war-scarred northern region “within reasonable time”. read more

While some supplies are arriving in Mekelle by air, their quantities are still insufficient to adequately reach all those in need of help, the U.N. OCHA Ethiopia office said.

Tigrayan leaders have in the past accused federal authorities and regional governments in Afar and Amhara of blocking aid into Tigray, accusations they deny.

The United Nations has repeatedly called on Ethiopia’s government to get aid into the north, and has said that shortages there were “man-made”.

Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Jon Boyle and Gareth Jones