Two trucks carrying medical supplies arrived in Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Tuesday, the first shipment of international aid to reach the region since Ethiopia’s federal government and Tigrayan forces agreed to a cease-fire earlier this month.
The convoy by the International Committee of the Red Cross or ICRC delivered 40 tons of “essential items, emergency medicines and surgical equipment” to Mekelle, Tigray’s regional capital, according to an ICRC statement.
Until today, no international aid had entered Tigray by road since late August.
Restrictions on humanitarian access since the conflict erupted in November 2020 have resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis across the region, with millions in urgent need of food and medicine.
The terms of the cease-fire deal — struck in South Africa earlier this month — commit Ethiopia’s federal government to facilitating unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray and restoring its phone, internet and banking services.
Jude Fuhnwi, a spokesperson for the ICRC in Ethiopia, said more aid including food and basic household items would be delivered to Tigray by air and road “in the coming days.”
“The delivery today signified hope to the population of Tigray. It also signifies to some of them hope for survival because there are many patients in the region who could have died because of lack of medicine, because of lack of proper medical care, because most of the hospitals and health centers in the region had run out of medical supplies. We had some of the hospitals that were no longer functional and this health system in the region was entirely or has been entirely under serious pressure,” said Fuhnwi.
Last week, Ethiopia’s chief negotiator in the peace talks, Redwan Hussein, said services were “being restored” to Tigray, while on Tuesday Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his government was committed to implementing the cease-fire deal.
A spokesperson from the U.N.’s World Food Program told VOA their organization had not yet resumed aid deliveries to Tigray, where nutritional supplies have mostly run out.
Roughly one-third of children and three quarters of lactating mothers screened for malnutrition in Tigray last month were malnourished.