UN calls for urgent emergency food assistance to help 9.4 million people in N. Ethiopia

Ethiopian Tigray
Ethiopian Tigray

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Thursday stressed that urgent action is needed to reach an estimated 9.4 million people with emergency food assistance in conflict-hit Northern Ethiopia.

“High levels of food insecurity in Northern Ethiopia remains a major concern,” the WFP said in its latest situation update, as it called for an urgent action to reach a growing number of conflict-affected Ethiopians.

The WFP said since the start of its operations in March 2021, it has provided food assistance to over 2.9 million people and nutrition assistance to over 500,000 people in Northern Ethiopia, enabling affected populations to meet their immediate food needs.

In the Tigray region, WFP said it has reached about 2.6 million people so far, 89 percent of its 2.9 million target population. Third round distributions, which were supposed to begin in July, were only able to commence in mid-October due to security challenges and the limited availability of fuel and food commodities within the region, it was noted.

The escalating conflict that erupted a year ago on Nov. 4 in Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region between forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), is now spreading across neighboring regions that are Amhara and Afar.

In the Amhara Region, WFP said some 213,000 people were reached under its third round distributions. It is now undertaking its fourth round distributions, through which it has reached 57,000 people against a target of 647,000 people.

In the Afar Region, WFP has completed Round 3 distributions to 77,000 people. WFP is now undertaking its Round 4 distributions, through which it has reached 70,000 people out of its target of 534,000, so far.

WFP is also providing food assistance to 86,000 refugees staying at camps in Northern Ethiopia, 61,000 in the Afar region, 24,600 in the Tigray region and 500 in the Amhara region, it was noted.

Amid mounting humanitarian needs, the WFP, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the national Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) have been forced to cut food rations to over 710,000 refugees in Ethiopia by up to 60 percent starting in November.

“This was a last resort to avoid a complete break in food supply. Without additional funding, WFP will completely run out of food for refugees by January 2022,” the WFP warned.

Meanwhile, the WFP said that the security situation in Northern Ethiopia is highly volatile, with the recent escalation of heavy clashes.

As the conflict escalates, different actors are calling for ceasefire and to find peaceful lasting solutions to the ongoing conflict. Enditem

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