ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 14, 2022/APO Group/ —
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) today warned that its life-saving food assistance operations in northern Ethiopia are about to come to a halt as heavy fighting has blocked the passage of fuel and food.
The escalation of the conflict in northern Ethiopia means that no WFP convoy has reached Mekelle since mid-December. Stocks of nutritionally fortified foods for treating malnourished children and women have already been depleted, and the last of WFP’s cereals, pulses and oil will be distributed next week.
“Now we have to choose who goes hungry to prevent another from going hungry,” said Michael Dunford, WFP Regional Director for East Africa.
“We need immediate guarantees from all parties to the conflict for safe and secure humanitarian corridors, through all routes, in northern Ethiopia. Humanitarian supplies are simply not flowing at the necessary pace and scale. The lack of food and fuel means that we have only been able to reach 20% of what we should have in this latest distribution in Tigray. We are on the brink of a humanitarian disaster.”
More than a year after the conflict in northern Ethiopia, an estimated 9.4 million people are in need of humanitarian food assistance. This is an increase of 2.7 million from just four months ago, the highest number ever. At the same time, due to the fighting, food distributions are at an all-time low.
WFP plans to reach 2.1 million people with food assistance in Tigray; 650,000 in Amhara; and 534,000 in the Afar region.
WFP also warns that it is likely to run out of food and nutrition supplies for millions of people across Ethiopia from next month due to an unprecedented lack of funds. WFP is requesting an additional US$337 million to provide its emergency food assistance response in northern Ethiopia and US$170 million to reach those affected by severe drought in the Somali region over the next six months.
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