After a month since the truce, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the UN still can’t get unrestricted access to the Tigray region of Ethiopia to bring in humanitarian aid. On Friday, the United Nations’ health office said that only a trickle of aid had been able to make its way into the northern region, which is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis as a result of a battle that has lasted for two years.
On November 2, the Ethiopian government and regional forces from Tigray came to an agreement to stop the fighting. This was a big diplomatic win in a war where thousands of people have died, millions more have been forced to leave their homes, and hundreds of thousands are at risk of starvation. “That peace process has not yet resulted in the kinds of full access, unfettered access, and massive scale of medical and health assistance that the people of Tigray need,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the emergencies director for the WHO, said during a news conference.
“Since we’ve been waiting for so long to be able to help these desperate people, I still have a lot of doubts about this.” The United Nations’ World Food Programme said a week ago that the aid being sent to Tigray was “not meeting the needs” of the area. According to Ryan, there were problems in the western part of the state of Tigray in areas that were held by militias as well as those that were controlled by the Eritrean military. “There are still major portions of the nation that are occupied by Eritrean forces, for which there is no access, and extremely worrying reports are coming about the experiences of the people there,” he added. “There is also no access to the rest of the country.”
Although they fought alongside Ethiopia’s military in Tigray, troops from Eritrea, which is located to the north, and soldiers from the neighboring Ethiopian district of Amhara, which is located to the south, did not participate in the truce. Tigray was cut off from the rest of the world for more than a year. During that time, it ran out of medicine and had trouble getting energy, banking, and communication services. All of these things need to be fixed for relief logistics to work.
According to Ryan, “it’s incredibly hard to plan a scale-up when at every point you can have your goals limited,” and he said that UN bodies “welcome any halt of violence, any access that’s allowed.” “However, the people of Tigray are in a grave situation,” he continued. They have gone years without having access to appropriate nutrition and medical treatment, and they are in urgent need of our assistance right now. Not the following week, not the following month.
According to Ryan, some WHO workers had been able to get in, and the organization may be able to serve a very small percentage of the requirements in the region with the help of a minor fuel allocation. In the meantime, on Thursday, the Ethiopian government announced that it, along with Tigrayan forces, had met within the Tigray region to outline disarmament plans, which were also part of the peace deal that was signed in South Africa last month, according to the AFP news agency. This was reported by the government.
According to the terms of the peace agreement, Tigray forces were to be disarmed within a month of the signing of the ceasefire, and Ethiopian security forces were to take full control of “all federal facilities, installations, and major infrastructure within the Tigray region,” such as airports and highways.
On the other hand, officials from Tigray have stated that the disarmament process cannot begin unless Ethiopia’s government removes fighters from Eritrea and Amhara.