UN Warns of ‘Looming Catastrophe’ in Tigray Due to Aid Blockade

The United Nations (UN) humanitarian office warned of a “looming catastrophe” in the Tigray region of Ethiopia as stocks of relief aid, cash, and fuel are “running very low or are completely depleted.”

UN Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia Grant Leaity warned in a statement on Sept. 2 that the humanitarian situation in the region “is set to worsen dramatically” due to a de facto humanitarian aid blockade that “extremely” restricts much-needed relief to an estimated 5.2 million people, including 400,000 people already facing famine-like conditions.

According to the UN, food stocks already ran out last Aug. 20 and that only about 355 trucks of the required 3,900 trucks have entered the region since July 12. None have entered since Aug. 22.

The UN estimates that about 300 million Ethiopian Birr ($6.5 million) are needed every week to sustain humanitarian operations, however only 88 million Ethiopian Birr ($1.9 million) has been dispatched to Tigray since July 12.

At least 200,000 liters of fuel is needed every week, but only 282,000 liters have reached Tigray and none since Aug. 16, according to the UN.

Vaccinations against diseases, including COVID-19, are also unavailable, affecting over 1.5 million people, the UN added.

Leaity called on all parties involved in the conflict to allow and facilitate the “rapid and unimpeded passage” of humanitarian aid to avoid a “looming catastrophe.”

Leaity also urged the Ethiopian government to restore essential services and the flow of essential commercial commodities into Tigray.

“The lives of millions of civilians in Tigray and neighboring regions in Afar and Amhara depend on our capacity to reach them with food, nutrition supplies, medicine, and other critical assistance. We need to reach them immediately and without obstruction to avert famine and significant levels of mortality,” Leaity said.

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