The UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that the first aid convoy in three months has entered northern Ethiopia’s war-ravaged Tigray regional state.
Late Friday night, WFP Ethiopia announced that “13 trucks have arrived safely in Mekelle, capital of Tigray regional state”, reports Xinhua news agency
“More trucks and fuel will follow in the morning,” it said, noting a need for daily convoys to meet the needs of 5 million people in Tigray.
The arrival of the aid convoy carrying 500 metric tonnes of food and nutrition supplies came a week after the Ethiopian government and the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) conditionally agreed to a cessation of hostilities and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid into the region.
The TPLF and the Ethiopian National Defense Force, backed by allied forces, have been engaged in a nearly 18-month conflict that has reportedly left tens of thousands of people dead and millions in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
The Ethiopian Parliament designated the TPLF as a terrorist organisation in May 2021.
In a separate statement, Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said teams have also reached communities in the neighboring Afar region with desperately needed food assistance.
“It is critical that we now see sustained deliveries of relief supplies, fuel and cash into Tigray, and the continued expansion of the response in conflict-affected areas in Afar and Amhara,” Haq said.
“Shortages of supplies, fuel and cash have severely undermined the ability of humanitarian organisations to respond to the increasingly acute situation in Tigray.”
In the months without convoys into Tigray, humanitarian organizations flew in some essential items, the spokesman said.
Aid partners flew in nearly 40 metric tonnes of nutrition supplies to Tigray’s regional capital of Mekelle, he said. Since late January, about 360 metric tonnes of primary medical and nutrition supplies have been flown in.
“Every bit helps. But a single convoy of 20 trucks could bring in more than twice this amount,” he said.