UN humanitarian chief makes official visit to Ethiopia

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, has embarked on a six-day visit to Ethiopia.

“It was important to me that I carry out my first official mission as the UN’s humanitarian chief to Ethiopia,” a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) issued on Thursday quoted Griffiths as saying.

According to Griffiths, humanitarian needs in the East African country have increased this year as a result of the armed conflicts in Tigray and Benishangul-Gumuz, inter-communal violence in parts of Afar, Somali and Southern regions, and drought in Somali, Oromia and Afar regions.

“These shocks came on top of existing challenges associated with floods, the desert locust infestation, chronic food insecurity and the Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of vulnerable people are now struggling and in need of help,” he said.

During the visit, Griffiths is expected to meet with high-level Ethiopian government officials and representatives of the humanitarian and donor communities, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the UNOCHA, an estimated 5.2 million people need humanitarian assistance in the Tigray region.

The Ethiopian federal government, which announced a unilateral ceasefire in the country’s conflict-affected northernmost Tigray regional state since late last month, blames the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for hindering humanitarian efforts in the region.

The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire, which was said to facilitate humanitarian assistance, peaceful livelihood in the region as well as agriculture activities amid the approaching rainy season.

The TPLF, however, rejected the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Ethiopian government.