UN chief “deeply concerned” by reported airstrikes on capital of Tigray
Speaking to reporters in New York, the UN spokesperson said The organization was still trying to verify details, but is concerned about the potential impact on civilians who reside or work in the affected areas.
According to Stéphane Dujarric, the Secretary-General is “deeply concerned” by the escalation of the conflict in northern Ethiopia.
Food is unloaded from a truck to a PAM distribution site in Zelazle in northern Tigray. , by © PAM / Claire Nevill
Fighting erupted in Tigray nearly a year ago between the Ethiopian army and the forces of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF), the main political force in the region. Thousands of people are said to be killed amid allegations of widespread human rights violations, with more than two million forced to flee their homes.
In recent months, humanitarian needs have increased, amid killings, looting and destruction of health centers and agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation systems essential to the production effort.
According to Dujarric, António Guterres stresses that all parties must avoid targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure, and reiterated his call for an end to all hostilities.
“He urges the parties to prioritize the well-being of the people and to provide the necessary support for the delivery of essential humanitarian aid, including by facilitating the flow of fuel and medicine,” Dujarric said. .
The lack of essential supplies, especially money and fuel, is seriously disrupting aid operations in Tigray, where at least 400,000 people are now facing conditions bordering on famine.
Under international humanitarian law, all parties have an obligation to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. This includes hundreds of aid workers who work tirelessly to help millions of civilians.
Civilians are “caught up in the fighting and the fighting itself forces us to cut back on rescue operations when people need it most, including food distributions, water supplies and health services.” Mr. Dujarric said.
The conflict has spread to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, where the ability to reach those in desperate need of assistance has also been hampered.
In the three regions – Tigray, Amhara and Afar – up to seven million people are now in urgent need of food assistance, according to the World Food Program (WFP). The majority of them, around 5.2 million, are in Tigray.
The United Nations calls on all parties to urgently allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of relief supplies and humanitarian personnel to all areas in humanitarian need, including those affected by recent fighting.
This includes fuel and money, “without which aid workers cannot do their job, and medicine, so that our colleagues can reach those who are in desperate need of help,” added Dujarric.
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