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The United Nations children’s agency on Friday said that the outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has left at least 2.3 million children in urgent need of assistance and thousands more at risk in various refugee camps. U.N. aid agencies are seeking $200 million to cover food, shelter and other urgent needs for a growing exodus into Sudan, where they said 200,000 Ethiopian refugees might be expected over six months.
Fierce fighting has been going on in Tigray since November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government.
The operation was an escalation of a long-running feud between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s ruling party, which dominated Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades before Abiy took office in 2018. Report has it that hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting, and thousands have fled across Ethiopia’s northern border into neighbouring Sudan as the fight rages.
‘Inside the Tigray region, restricted access and the ongoing communication blackout have left an estimated 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and out of reach,’ UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said.
The agency estimates that ‘some 12,000 children – some of them without parents or relatives – are among those sheltering in camps and registration centres and are at risk.’
Many of the makeshift camps set up in Sudan are overcrowded and refugees have been struggling with unsanitary conditions, limited access to water, and food.
The UN agency said it has sought to provide urgent assistance and life-saving support for children living in “extremely harsh” conditions in the camps. Fore urged all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian access, and refrain from using explosives in densely populated areas.
‘Every effort should be made to keep children out of harm’s way, and to ensure that they are protected from recruitment and use in the conflict,’ she said.
United Nations aid agencies called on Friday for an immediate temporary ceasefire in Ethiopia and the setting up of humanitarian corridors that would enable access to civilians after two weeks of fighting.
‘A temporary ceasefire with immediate effect is needed to allow humanitarian corridors to be established,’ Babar Baloch, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a Geneva briefing.
U.N. aid agencies are seeking $200 million to cover food, shelter and other urgent needs for a growing exodus into Sudan, where they said 200,000 Ethiopian refugees might be expected over six months.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK