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UN: More Than 2 Million Children in Ethiopia's Tigray in Need of Aid


FILE - Children play in front of a bullet-ridden wall of a destroyed store in the village of Bisober, in Ethiopia's Tigray region, Dec. 9, 2020.

About 2.3 million children in the Tigray region of Ethiopia have been cut off from humanitarian assistance for over a month, the United Nations said Tuesday.

“We are extremely concerned that the longer access to them is delayed, the worse their situation will become as supplies of food, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of child malnutrition, medicines, water, fuel and other essentials run low,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Fore said the U.N. was prepared to provide essential services to malnourished children in the embattled region but needed access to Tigray that Addis Ababa is currently not allowing.

Telecommunications have been cut and access limited to the Tigray region since violence broke out on November 4, making it difficult for humanitarian agencies to evaluate the needs there.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday that the U.N. was working with Ethiopia’s government to reestablish access to conflict zones.

Tigray, the northernmost of Ethiopia’s nine regions, defiantly held elections in September in which Debretsion Gebremichael emerged the leader, despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to postpone the polls, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

Ethiopia’s government took military action against Tigray after the region’s forces attacked a military camp of federal troops November 4, according to Abiy. The Abiy government considers the regional government, led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, as illegitimate. The TPLF denied staging the attack.

Since November, more than 50,000 people have fled violence in Tigray and headed to Sudan. Another 63,000 are believed to be internally displaced in Tigray, according to the U.N.

VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.