The top United Nations humanitarian official began his first official visit to Ethiopia Thursday amid a humanitarian crisis resulting from conflicts and natural disasters in the region.
"Humanitarian needs in the country have increased this year as a result of the armed conflicts in Tigray and Benishangul-Gumuz, intercommunal violence in parts of Afar, Somali and SNNP regions, and drought in Somali, Oromia and Afar regions,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said in a statement.
Griffiths is visiting Ethiopia for six days during which he is expected to meet with senior government officials and representatives of humanitarian and donor programs.
According to the statement, he plans to visit the embattled northern Tigray region to hear first-hand accounts from affected civilians and to see the challenges humanitarian workers are confronted with.
Some 5.2 million people in the Tigray region, about 90% of the population, need humanitarian assistance, the U.N. said.
The U.N. also said more than 90 of its agencies are responding to the country’s humanitarian crisis, along with national and global non-governmental organizations and government agencies.
Griffiths’ visit began Thursday, the same day that hundreds of Eritrean refugees protested in Addis Ababa calling for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to relocate family and friends they say are trapped in two refugee camps due to fighting in the Tigray region.
The UNHCR said this week it lost access to the camps on July 14.
The U.S. said earlier this week it was concerned about the well-being of Eritrean refugees in Tigray.