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BBC.com: Ethiopia's Tigray crisis: What's stopping aid getting in?

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Tuesday, 29 March 2022

By Peter Mwai BBC Reality Check March 29, 2022 The United Nations says there is a severe shortage of food and humanitarian supplies in northern Ethiopia's region of Tigray as a consequence of the ongoing conflict there. The Ethiopian government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels have agreed a humanitarian truce to allow aid into the region, but both have accused the other side of continuing to obstruct deliveries. More than 90% of the population in the region is in urgent need of assistance, according to the UN. • Aid delivery only possible by air No aid trucks have successfully delivered aid to Tigray since mid-December. So aid agencies have been forced to transport supplies by air. This is far more costly and delivers only minimal supplies. "Planes carry less cargo at 25 times the cost of truck convoys" says Samantha Power, of the US international development agency (USAID). "Trucking means more food for war-torn Tigray, but the Ethiopian government continues to block access for trucks." During the first week of March, only 100 metric tonnes of humanitarian supplied were transported via air to Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigray, according to the UN, far less than is needed. About half a million children are estimated to be lacking food in Tigray, including more than 115,000 severely malnourished. Families are exhausting all remaining means to access food, with three quarters of the population reported to be using extreme coping strategies to survive, the UN says. "The level of food insecurity is expected to worsen in the coming months as remaining food stocks from the last harvest, which was half of normal year production, get depleted." • What's blocking overland routes into Tigray? UN aid agencies estimate that 100 trucks carrying food, non-food items and fuel, are required to the deliver the required aid into Tigray every day. But the main routes have been blocked for many months due to the ongoing conflict. Continued fighting in the border region between Tigray and neighbouring Afar province to the east has made that route too dangerous. Roads from the Amhara region to the south and Sudan to the west have also been closed as opposing militia contest for control of these areas. There is no access either via Tigray's northern border with Eritrea. • What does the government say? The Ethiopian government rejects claims that Ethiopia is blocking aid, blaming the rebels of the TPLF instead. It says that an aid convoy set off from Semera, the capital of Afar province on 17 March, bound for Mekelle, raising hopes that the main overland route would be operational once again. But no aid convoy has yet reached there. The TPLF have denied government accusations that they are to blame for disrupting the aid. "At no time before, during or after the fighting have aid trucks been prevented from passing through into Tigray by Tigray forces," it has said. • Fuel scarcity a challenge In addition to other supplies, availability of fuel has been a key issue. The government has been restricting movement of fuel into Tigray for many months, which has severely affected the distribution of aid within Tigray. "With no fuel, even if we can get supplies in, getting them to where they need to go is very difficult, or impossible," says WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. • Humanitarian convoys are facing severe problems accessing the Tigray region For many months, the Ethiopian government was also restricting movement of medical supplies. The WHO was however allowed to airlift some supplies in February. It estimates that 2,200 tonnes of emergency health supplies are needed to respond to urgent health needs in Tigray. Only 221 tonnes have so far been delivered - just about 4% of what is needed. •••••••••• * Map showing Tigray and other regions with key places * Women seen in a camp for internally displaced persons in Afar regionImage source, Getty Images Image caption, * An Internally Displaced Person (IDP), fleeing from violence in the Metekel zone in Western Ethiopia, holds a bowl with food at a camp in Chagni, Ethiopia, on January 27, 2021.Image source, AFP * WFP trucks parked at a checkpoint along the Amhara and Tigray regions borderImage source, Reuters Image caption,

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