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THE United Nations signed a deal today allowing “unimpeded” humanitarian access to the parts of Tigray under Ethiopian government control, following warnings that the fighting in the region has created a hunger and refugee crisis.
This will allow the first food, medicines and other aid into the northern region of six million people.
For weeks, aid-laden lorries have been blocked at Tigray’s borders, and the UN and other humanitarian groups were increasingly anxious to reach the war-torn region as hunger grows and hospitals run out of basic supplies such as gloves and body bags. Damage to infrastructure has affected the supply of treated water.
Though Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed claimed “total victory” over the region’s ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at the weekend and federal forces occupied Mekele, Tigray’s capital, fighting continues in many areas.
Mr Abiy has resisted African Union calls for dialogue, arguing that the TPLF – which dominated Ethiopian governments for decades before he came to power in 2018 – was undermining national sovereignty.
Over one million people – from a state population of about six million – are believed to be displaced, with 45,000 fleeing into Sudan. Tigray was itself the site of refugee camps housing 100,000 refugees from Eritrea, and the UN says that food in the camps has run out completely.
Some reports suggest camp residents have been killed or abducted, though the UN was unable to confirm this as most lines of access to the region are severed.
Refugee Danyo told aid workers after crossing into Sudan: “The world hasn’t seen anything like this year. When Dr Abiy came, we saw him as a good thing. His talk in the beginning was as sweet as honey. Now, the honey has gone sour.”
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