Doctors without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), says it is ‘deeply concerned’ about the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been deprived of medical care for months and have received little humanitarian assistance, according to the medical aid outfit.
The conflict involving federal and local forces in Tigray has left hundreds dead, thousands displaced, and millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The conflict started on 04 November after the country’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, ordered the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF) to attack the Tigray Regional Paramilitary Police and militia loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Most of the displaced people inside Tigray stay with the host community, while tens of thousands live in informal sites or are still hiding in the bush or the mountains, according to MSF.
‘Tens of thousands of people have arrived in Shire, a large town in the zone of North West Tigray, since fighting broke out in November’, MSF said in a statement.
‘Most are from the zone of West Tigray. The majority stay with the host community, but almost 20,000 people live in informal sites.
‘They sleep in cramped and often unhygienic conditions in the classrooms of several schools, as well as on the campus of Shire University’.
According to the humanitarian organisation, people’s major concern is a lack of food.
‘There have been several food distributions, and with more aid organisations recently arriving, the numbers are increasing, but people say it is not enough and that the distributions are often unfair, leaving some people with less than others or even nothing at all’, it reported.
‘Nobody is formally in charge of the sites, and displaced people appoint community representatives from their home areas to organise distributions and other matters.
‘Some people sell food donations to buy blankets or other things they need’.
MSF said it carried out a nutritional survey with children under five in the sites and found that while the situation is concerning, it is not at emergency level yet.
‘What we saw was that the overall global malnutrition rate in the sites was about 11 percent’, MSF medical team leader, Juniper Gordon, said.
‘There was nine percent moderate and tow percent severe malnutrition, which is under the emergency threshold.
‘There is food instability and there is definitely a risk for it to become a nutritional crisis. We have to keep a close eye on it’.
More than 1.5 million people have been reached with emergency food distribution, with 26,000 Eritrean refugees residing in two camps also receiving food and nutrition assistance, according to World Food Programme (WFP).
Photo source: UN Humanitarian