UN, Ethiopia agree on humanitarian access to Tigray

The UN and the Ethiopian government have reached an agreement on humanitarian access to areas under the latter’s control in the conflict-ridden Tigray region, officials said.

The accord “seeks to enable unimpeded, sustained and secure access for humanitarian personnel and services in areas under the control of the federal government in Tigray and the bordering areas of Amhara and Afar regions”, Xinhua news agency quoted the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

An assessment and response mission already is under way to the east in Afar’s border areas to reach the internally displaced.

“We, along with our humanitarian partners in Ethiopia, are engaging with the federal government and all parties to the conflict to ensure that humanitarian action in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions is strictly based on needs,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The agreement aims to help people without distinction of any kind other than the urgency of their needs, Dujarric told a regular press briefing.

The world organization and humanitarian partners have been seeking access to the affected areas for weeks.

More than 800,000 people are already in urgent need of assistance in Tigray, including about 96,000 Eritrean refugees and nearly 600,000 people who were relying on food aid, humanitarians said.

About 46,000 people fled into Sudan, the UN Refugee Agency reported earlier in the week.

A Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attack on an Ethiopian National Defense Force division in Tigray on November 4 triggered a military operation against the TPLF, leading to the humanitarian crisis.