July 25, 2021

Faced with humanitarian chaos in Tigray, NGOs are prevented from working

Returned to the control of the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF), Makalé experienced euphoria on Monday evening, June 28, when rebel fighters entered the provincial capital. Since then, calm has reigned in the city of 500,000 inhabitants, which is home to all the international humanitarian organizations operating in Tigray. But the stability of the rest of this region of 6 million people is questionable. « L’impact of the current configuration on humanitarian operations remains uncertain ”, recognizes the spokesperson of the UN, Stéphane Dujarric. And the conflict is once again taking place behind closed doors after the telecommunications cut.

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In Makalé, a humanitarian ensures that all operations are « jellies » for the time being. « Our teams cannot leave the city, says World Food Program (WFP) spokesperson Claire Nevill. We are ready to work, but we are waiting for free and secure access to be guaranteed for humanitarians. » Despite the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by the Ethiopian government on Tuesday, fighting continues in Tigray. The clashes are located in the south, in Raya Azebo, a disputed territory between Tigrayan forces and militias from the Amhara region.

The needs are however urgent: 91% of individuals need humanitarian assistance according to the WFP. And, according to the United Nations, Tigray has 1.7 million internally displaced people, the majority of people expelled from the west, the Wolqayt.

Famine threatens 350,000 people

WFP is also concerned about the long-term impact on hunger in the region. The province, mountainous and arid, is inherently vulnerable. Even before the conflict began, 600,000 people depended on food aid. Tigray’s crops were destroyed by an invasion of locusts in October 2020. Farmers mostly missed planting in June and run out of fertilizer for September, potentially putting the region in dire straits. horizon 2022. On June 10, the UN estimated that the specter of famine threatened 350,000 people. The Biden administration today speaks of 900,000 people.

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However, WFP had to resolve to suspend its food supplies. « Lhe situation in rural areas of Tigray is of great concern to us, adds Claire Nevill. These are remote places that we sometimes could not access for several weeks, we fear a disaster. »

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