UN aid chief Martin Griffiths has urged Ethiopia to allow lorries into northern state Tigray, where a De-Facto aid blockade of nearly three months has restricted deliveries to 10 per cent of what is needed.
In his submission, Martin Griffiths this is man-made situation and can be remedied by the act of government.
The Tigray war broke out 10 months ago between Ethiopia’s Federal Troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which controls Tigray.
Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and more than two million have fled their homes.
It has been nearly three months since the UN warned that 400,000 people across Tigray had “crossed the threshold into famine”.
The situation has only deteriorated since then, as a de-facto blockade prevents most aid from getting in.
Now, after months of heavy fighting and massacres that have claimed thousands of lives, doctors worry Tigray is entering a new phase of fatalities driven by the kind of widespread starvation that turned Ethiopia into a byword for famine in the 1980s.
Dr Hayelom Kebede, research director of Ayder Referral Hospital in Tigray’s capital Mekele, the region’s biggest referred to the current situation as a silent killing since people are just dying because of hunger.
Currently, It is difficult to know the exact situation because of a De-Facto aid blockade and lack of fuel, cash and lorries.
Despite the worrying circumstances, the controversial Ethiopia’s UN mission in New York has said that any claim on the existence of blockade is baseless. It said aid groups faced shortage in lorries as a result of the non-return of almost all lorries that travelled to Tigray to deliver aid.
Lorry drivers carrying aid into Tigray have come under fire at least twice and some Tigrayan drivers have been arrested in the neighbouring state of Afar, although they were later released, according to UN reports.
According to Mr Griffiths Several lorries have gone into Tigray and not come back, compounding the humanitarian problems.
In Tigray, 5.2 million people, or 90% of the population, need help, the UN has estimated.
Screening of children under age 5 during the first half of September revealed that 23 per cent are malnourished and more than 70 per cent of some 11,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished.
Mr Griffiths also said 100 lorries a day of aid are needed to get to Tigray, but only 10% had gained access in the past three months. He further called on the Ethiopian government to do what they promised to do which is to facilitate access which is currently limited hence causing a huge threat to humanity..
The UN aid chief met Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen last week during the UN General Assembly in New York. Mr Mekonnen assured him that access is improving.
Mothers in Ethiopia’s war-scarred Tigray region have taken a desperate move by feeding their children on leaves in a bid to keep them alive.
As they move from place to place, dodging fighting and searching for aid, they watch for telltale signs of malnutrition: sluggishness, rashes, loss of appetite.
Those signs are increasingly frequent these days, and in some cases portend the worst possible outcome, according to internal documents and photographs from one aid agency.
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