Aid groups say they are ready to deliver much-needed food and medicine to Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region after the warring sides agreed to a cease-fire Wednesday.
The deal between the Tigray rebels and Ethiopia’s government commits federal officials to ensuring “unhindered humanitarian access” to Tigray, which is in the grip of one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.
Some 5 million people there need humanitarian assistance, while doctors at the region’s flagship Ayder Hospital say they have run out of medicines to treat sick patients.
Representatives of the World Food Program and the International Committee of the Red Cross told VOA their organizations were ready to send trucks carrying aid supplies into Tigray but have not been given the green light by the federal government.
Jude Fuhnwi, a spokesperson for the ICRC in Ethiopia, welcomed the signing of the deal Wednesday, saying the conflict has caused “vast civilian suffering” since it broke out two years ago.
“The ICRC remains committed to supporting the population of northern Ethiopia. And we have already made the necessary preparations to immediately dispatch our next humanitarian supplies by air and by road, as soon as the humanitarian routes are open,” Fuhnwi said.
Roughly one-third of children and three quarters of lactating mothers screened for malnutrition in Tigray last week displayed signs of malnourishment.
Meanwhile, fighting has displaced around half a million people in northwestern Tigray. Most of them are cut off from aid distributions.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told reporters that they “are in contact with the government of Ethiopia and others to resume the movement of aid convoys and personnel” to the cities of Mekelle and Shire.
Aid deliveries to Tigray have been severely restricted since the war in northern Ethiopia began. No aid trucks have entered the region since fresh fighting erupted on August 24.
Aid deliveries have resumed to parts of the Amhara and Afar regions next to Tigray that were also affected by the fighting.