ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI (Reuters) – Ethiopia and the United Nations reached an agreement on Wednesday to channel desperately needed humanitarian aid to a northern region where a month of war has killed, wounded and uprooted large numbers of people.
The pact, announced by U.N. officials, will allow aid workers access to government-controlled areas of Tigray, where federal troops have been battling the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and captured the regional capital.
The war is believed to have killed thousands, sent 45,000 refugees into Sudan, displaced many more within Tigray, and worsened suffering in a region where 600,000 people were already dependent on food aid even before the flare-up from Nov. 4.
Aid agencies had sounded the alarm about a growing humanitarian crisis and been pressing for access, after hundreds of foreign workers were forced to evacuate.
Food is thought to be running out for 96,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said at the weekend that medics in the local capital Mekelle were short of painkillers, gloves and bodybags.
“The U.N. and the Federal Government of Ethiopia have signed an agreement to ensure that humanitarians will have unimpeded, sustained and secure access for humanitarian personnel and services to areas under the control of the Federal Government in the Tigray Region,” the U.N. humanitarian coordination agency OCHA said in a statement to Reuters.
There was no immediate confirmation from the government.