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Saturday, February 04 2023

UN relief chief calls for humanitarian access in Ethiopia

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United Nations: Winding up a four-day visit to Ethiopia, Martin Griffiths, the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, has again appealed for aid operation access across the country amid ongoing conflicts in some regions.

Griffiths met Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen on Monday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, during which he sought to identify means of improving humanitarian access and aid to all people in need across Ethiopia, reports Xinhua news agency.

The top UN official had constructive discussions on November 5 with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Mekonnen on the humanitarian situation in the country and the challenges that aid organisations face in delivering assistance, the office said.

On Sunday, Griffiths visited Mekelle, capital of the embattled Tigray region, OCHA said.

There, he met women affected by the conflict and with humanitarian partners of the world body.

He also engaged with de facto authorities on the need for humanitarian access, protection of civilians through all areas under their control, and respect for human principles, OCHA said.

The aid office said conflict, large-scale displacement, drought, flooding, disease outbreaks and desert locust infestation continue to drive humanitarian needs across Ethiopia.

Humanitarians target about 20 million people for assistance, including 7 million directly affected by the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

The office said the 2021 humanitarian response plan for Ethiopia has a more than $1.3 billion funding gap.

Humanitarians mobilized an estimated $606 million dollars for the northern Ethiopia response plan and $474 million dollars more for a draft response plan to cover areas outside Tigray.

However, OCHA said the funds are far from sufficient to cover mounting humanitarian needs.

The conflict that started in the northernmost Tigray region a year ago has since spread to the neighbouring areas of Afar and Amhara.

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