Saturday, October 23, 2021

US announces aid package for war-torn tiger

The United States said on Wednesday it was providing an additional $26 million to address the humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.

The aid will enable humanitarian agencies to help an estimated 6 million to 7 million people in the north, “some 900,000 of whom are facing famine-like conditions, and more than 48,000 refugees who have fled northern Ethiopia to Sudan.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

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Blinken said the humanitarian situation “will continue to deteriorate without a political solution.”

The federal government of Ethiopia has been engaged in armed conflict with the forces of the Tigre People’s Liberation Front for almost a year.

FILE – A tank damaged during fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and the Tigre Special Forces stands on the outskirts of the Ethiopian city of Humera on July 1, 2021.

The government declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew its forces from northern Ethiopian territory in June, but conflict has since spread to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Blinken called for “immediate, full, secure and unhindered access to humanitarian organizations and workers” at Tigre. The United Nations has said that some humanitarian aid trucks are passing through the area.

On Wednesday at the United Nations, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the situation in northern Ethiopia “remains highly unpredictable and unstable. The delivery of humanitarian supplies to Tigre is heavily disrupted through the only road access from Afar.”

Dujarric said 211 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigre on October 6-12, up from 80 a week earlier.

He said the growth is positive, but the number is still not enough to meet the needs of the sector. He said that for this 100 trucks would have to enter the area every day.

Tigreyan leaders and Ethiopian government officials blamed each other’s forces for blocking roads so that trucks could not reach areas in need.

Last week, Ethiopia expelled seven top UN aid officials, saying they were interfering in Ethiopia’s affairs and aided the TPLF. The United Nations said the authorities did nothing wrong.

Blinken said the US has provided about $663 million in humanitarian aid for northern Ethiopia since the crisis began.

Margaret Beshir contributed to this report.

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