United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says there is grave concern for the plight of young people in Ethiopia’s northern state of Tigray.
The conflict involving federal and local forces in Tigray has reportedly left hundreds dead, thousands displaced, and millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The country’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, had ordered the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF) to attack the Tigray Regional Paramilitary Police and militia loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said since early November 2020 more than 57,000 Ethiopian refugees had fled to neighbouring Sudan.
UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said there were potentially many more among the approximately 280,000 internally displaced persons in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions.
‘For 12 weeks, the international humanitarian community has had very limited access to conflict-affected populations across most of Tigray’, Fore said in a statement.
UNICEF and its partners, according to the statement, have dispatched 29 trucks filled with emergency nutrition, health, and protection supplies into Tigray.
Fore said there was also little fuel to operate water and sanitation systems, noting that there was a dire malnutrition level among babies and toddlers.
‘One assessment conducted by partners in early January in the Shire area showed rates of severe acute malnutrition of up to ten percent among children below the age of five’, she said.
‘This is far above WHO’s emergency threshold of three percent and could potentially put the lives of up to 70,000 children at risk’.
The humanitarian organisation noted that within Tigray, the global acute malnutrition level has risen to 34 percent, raising fears that affected children could eventually succumb to life-threatening malnutrition.
She called for the restoration of essential services.
‘For that to happen, salaries of civil servants need to be paid and access for humanitarian staff granted to help regional authorities assess the growing needs, identify priorities and deliver much-needed services’.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) had said that it was impossible for humanitarians to get vital supplies into Ethiopia’s Tigray region due to the disruption of telephone lines and transport links.
There are some 600,000 food beneficiaries in the region, about 100,000 internally displaced persons, and some 96,000 refugees, according to UNOCHA.
Violence involving federal and local forces erupted in Tigray following the reported takeover of an army base in the Tigrayan capital, Mekelle.
Source: UN News
Photo source: UN Humanitarian