With the worsening military conflict in the Ethiopian Tigray region costing many lives and having left civilians with no access to basic services, the United Nations has released US$36.6 million from the UN pooled funds for urgent assistance in dealing with this regional crisis.
According to the latest reports, hundreds of people have died and thousands have been displaced as a result of the military conflict in Tigray in the northern region of Ethiopia. Over 50,000 people – with over one-third of them children – have fled to neighboring Sudan seeking a safe haven. The conflict has also triggered a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The UN also reports that women and children have become victims of violence, deprivation, and abuse with children still unable to access aid. The UNICEF estimates that 2.3 million require urgent humanitarian assistance which they have not so far received as they struggle with malnourishment, lack of medical aid and medicines, along with inadequate sanitation.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock said, “The UN warns that after six weeks of ongoing conflict, “the civilian toll is mounting. The UN had decided to allocate additional financial resources to deal with the crisis. $13 million will come from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) which is designed to support people in Ethiopia and $5 million will be allocated to help new refugees who have recently arrived in Sudan. In addition, $12 million has been released from the UN’s Humanitarian Fund in Ethiopia and $5.6 million from the UN’s Sudan Humanitarian Fund.”
Lowcock also said, “The UN has decided to use this money to help women, children, older people, and disabled people initially with the newly released funds being used to ensure water and food supplies, sanitation, and life-saving medical supplies. The UN is planning to invest money in health facilities, purchase medicines, finance nutrition, and drinking water as well as providing shelter to take care of the sick and injured. In Sudan, the UN will prioritize life-saving aid for refugees.”
The ongoing conflict has also contributed to significant growth in COVID-19 infections although this problem does affect the entire continent. While between September and October the World Health Organization recorded 29,000 cases per week in 47 African countries, since mid-October this number has risen to 46,000 cases.
The situation in Tigray is becoming even more complicated as the prices of food and fuel have soared due to the conflict and people have no access to cash and are therefore unable to meet their basic daily needs. Moreover, aid workers very often have restricted access to people in need as communication with Tigray was cut off and still remains limited.
As of 15th of December, the World Food Programme had so far delivered 19 trucks carrying 570 tonnes of food. It was also able to reach 35,000 Eritrean refugees living in two camps in Mai Aini and Adi Harush and deliver a month’s supply of food to them.
In the face of the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region, the EU has also decided to release additional funding to address this issue. On the 19th of December, the European Commission announced that it intended to allocate €23.7 million to deal with the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Ethiopia.