Aid workers pre-deployed in Ethiopia as access talks continue: UN

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Aid workers have been pre-deployed for urgent care to more than 800,000 people in Ethiopia who need food, water and medical supplies as access talks continue, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.

“Humanitarian partners inside Tigray need immediate access to basic commodities including food, medical supplies, fuel to run water pumps and enable overall response, so we can sustain the ongoing response and scale up to assist people affected,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Tigray to allow unconditional, free and safe humanitarian access to the region, OCHA said in a release. More than 800,000 people in Ethiopia already were in urgent need of assistance and protection, including nearly 96,000 Eritrean refugees and almost 600,000 people relying on food aid to survive before violence broke out early last month.

“The UN has pre-deployed personnel to key locations in Afar and Amhara to support possible assessment and response missions in Tigray, while access negotiations continue,” the humanitarian office said.

Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the UN Refugee Agency has also appealed to Addis Ababa for urgent access to Tigray, the country’s northernmost regional state.

“They say that concerns are growing by the hour, noting that camps will now have run out of food, which makes hunger and malnutrition a real danger,” Dujarric told reporters in a regular briefing. “The agency also said that Ethiopian refugees continue to arrive in the hundreds to Sudan, with nearly 46,000 people having arrived since the start of November.”

An alleged Tigray People’s Liberation Front attack on an Ethiopian National Defense Force division in Tigray reportedly touched off a Nov. 4 federal response that in turn led to the present humanitarian crisis, published reports said.

Blocked communications and road access have hampered the tallying of casualties and humanitarian needs, Dujarric has said.

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