ADDIS ABABA: After weeks of lobbying in the middle of military operations there, Ethiopia has given the United Nations access to provide assistance to the northern territory of Tigray, according to an agreement on Wednesday.
The deal signed by the peace minister of Ethiopia, comes four weeks after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops and warplanes to campaign against the representatives of the governing Tigray People’s Liberation Front group in the region (TPLF).
According to the International Crisis Organization, thousands have died in ensuing fighting, while tens of thousands have fled into neighbouring Sudan.Ethiopia
The UN has been alert of a potential humanitarian crisis in Tigray, but it has been difficult to determine conditions on the ground due to a communication blackout.
In Tigray, a senior UN official said on Wednesday, we have signed an agreement providing unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance anywhere citizens are in need.Ethiopia
A second senior UN official also said it extended to the region’s entire population of nearly six million.
On Wednesday, two evaluation missions were conducted and more are anticipated shortly, officials said.
“The text of the Agreement states that the United Nations and humanitarian partners” may have access to vulnerable communities in the Tigray (government)-administered areas and the Amhara and Afar border areas.Ethiopia
On Saturday night, Abiy proclaimed victory, claiming military operations were “completed” in Tigray, but the TPLF vowed to fight on.
On Wednesday, senior Tigrayan official Wondimu Asamnew reported that federal forces were “facing low-scale warfare throughout Tigray” and that pro-TPLF fighters were to unleash a “full-scale offensive…” “In the near future”.Ethiopia
Wondimu also said in a statement that without suffering heavy casualties, the TPLF had carried out a “strategic retreat.”
Whether the government has power over the whole territory remains uncertain, raising concerns as to whether the UN is really going to have full access.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Abiy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Around 600,000 people living in Tigray relied on food handouts before the fighting started, among them 96,000 Eritrean refugees. The agreement states that 42,000 malnourished women and girls, as well as 100,000 internally displaced persons, were also in the area.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, food, fuel and cash are in short supply, while the International Committee of the Red Cross claims that basic medical equipment is missing.
The UN refugee agency warned on Tuesday that it was believed that Eritrean refugees in Tigray had run out of food, adding that their health issues were “growing by the hour.” In the meantime, messages are returning to areas of Tigray.
Ethio Telecom, a monopoly telecommunications provider in the region, said Wednesday that services in cities like Humera, Dansha, Mai-Kadra and Mai-Tsebri had partially resumed.
It reported that services in the southern Tigray town of Alamata had completely restored and that officials were “working to restore telecommunications services in all areas of the region.”
In Tigray, Abiy proposes to set up a caretaker government led by Mulu Nega, formerly a senior official in the ministry of higher education in Ethiopia.