ADDIS ABABA – The number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance across northern Ethiopia has grown to an estimated 9.4 million as a direct result of ongoing conflict, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today.
Amhara region – the frontlines of the conflict in Ethiopia – has seen the largest jump in numbers with 3.7 million people now in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Of the people across northern Ethiopia in need of assistance, more than 80% (7.8 million) of them are behind battle lines. It is vital that food assistance can cross battle lines to reach families in need.
This week WFP delivered food to over 10,000 people in the Amhara towns of Dessie and Kombolcha on behalf of the Joint Emergency Operation (JEOP). These are the first distributions to happen in these towns since they were taken over by Tigray Forces almost a month ago. WFP was only granted full access to its warehouses in the region last week.
The nutrition situation across North Ethiopia is deteriorating with screening data from all three regions showing malnutrition rates between 16%-28% for children. Even more alarmingly, up to 50% of pregnant and breastfeeding women screened in Amhara and Tigray were also found to be malnourished.
To date WFP has reached more than 3.2 million people with emergency food and nutrition assistance across northern Ethiopia, including 875,000 vulnerable mothers and children with nutritionally fortified food in Tigray and Amhara.
United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights into Tigray resumed on Wednesday, rotating the first humanitarian workers into and out of the region since a security incident on 22 October.
WFP needs a million litres of fuel to be able to reach the 7.8 million people who are currently behind the battle lines and in urgent need of food assistance. Tigray Authorities have made fuel available for WFP in Kombolcha – with an initial batch of 45,000 litres already on its way to support the scale-up of food assistance in Tigray.
A convoy loaded with 2,200 metric tons of life-saving food is expected to arrive in Mekelle in the coming days, 35 trucks have arrived so far. In addition, trucks loaded with food from Kombolcha are being sent into Southern Tigray today.
Corridors into Tigray had been closed due to the recent Tigrayan offences on Afar and Amhara, as well as severe disruptions in clearances from Federal Government. Since mid-July, less than a third of the supplies required to meet estimated humanitarian food needs have entered the region.
In Tigray, in this current round of food assistance, WFP has reached 180,000 people – just 7 percent of the 2.5 million WFP needs to reach.
In Amhara, WFP has reached more than 220,000 people with food and nutrition assistance and is scaling up to reach 650,000 people.
In Afar, WFP has distributed food to 124,000 people out of its targeted 534,000.
WFP’s Northern Ethiopia response urgently requires US$316 million to deliver assistance over the next six months. Across the entire country, WFP has an unprecedented funding gap of US$579 million to save and change the lives of 12 million people over the next six months.
Funding shortages have already forced ration cuts for some 710,000 refugees and 2.4 million food insecure people in Somali region.