Despite truce, Tigray aid ‘too little to sustain life,’ says WHO chief
Despite the Ethiopian government declaring a humanitarian truce seven weeks ago to allow desperately needed aid to flow into Tigray following a monthslong de facto blockade, “nowhere near enough supplies are getting into the region,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Current supplies of food are too little to sustain life. The health system has collapsed. People are starving to death — and it is intentional,” he said during a news briefing Tuesday.
Only one aid convoy, which included 17 trucks of humanitarian assistance, crossed into the Tigray region last week carrying food, water, and sanitation supplies to a population desperately in need of aid, he said. Since the humanitarian truce was declared, only 172 trucks have made it to the region, which is just 4% of the overall need in Tigray, he said last week. The World Food Programme also said last week that another convoy of 64 trucks are on their way to Mekelle with food aid.
Across northern Ethiopia, over 9.4 million people are in dire need of food and other aid. While this includes the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara, the government has singled out Tigray in its blockade of aid — which is home to its adversary the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. This is one of the longest aid blockades in history, Tedros said.
In Afar, 600,000 people have been targeted for food aid — recently one of the humanitarian groups reached 68% of the people targeted, while another reached 33%. In Amhara, recent food distribution reached over 90% of the target population.
But last week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said humanitarian groups only have 560 metric tonnes of food commodities left within Tigray because of the limited aid deliveries.
This falls drastically short of at least 4,675 metric tonnes of food commodities — or 115 trucks — needed each day to serve the 5.2 million people in need in the region. Nearly half a million children are estimated to be malnourished in Tigray.
Feature image: Men unload food aid bound for victims of war after a checkpoint leading to Tigray in Mai Tsebri town, Ethiopia in June 2021. Photo by: Stringer / Reuters