Addis Abeba – The latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reveals that since the beginning of 2024, four Ethiopian aid workers have lost their lives.
Among the deceased, two were in the Amhara region, while the remaining fatalities occurred in the Afar and Gambela regions.
The report also discloses that a total of 46 aid workers have lost their lives in Ethiopia since 2019, with 36 of these victims directly linked to the conflicts in northern Ethiopia.
OCHA indicates that while humanitarian workers are not deliberately targeted by armed individuals, the inherent instability of the security environment and the presence of numerous armed groups in the country, including local militias and armed civilians, present significant risks to aid personnel and relief efforts.
Two weeks ago, Addis Standard reported that Weldu Aregawi, an ambulance driver employed by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), lost his life while on duty in the Central Zone of the Tigray region.
The UN agency specifically underscored the precarious security conditions in Amhara, where armed confrontations between security forces and non-state armed groups have persisted since April 2023.
“The region has also witnessed a rise in criminal activities and instances of aid theft,” the report noted.
On 02 February, 2024, the House of People’s Representatives ratified the extension of the state of emergency declared in the Amhara region since August 2023. Following deliberation, the parliament approved the proposal with a majority vote in favor, despite encountering two opposing votes.
Gedion Timothios, the Minister of Justice, presented the government’s proposal to lawmakers. As reported by parliamentary sources, the extension of the state of emergency is intended to uphold the “peace and security of the people” amidst the prevailing region-wide militarized conflict.
In its report, OCHA indicated a notable increase in temporary arrests of aid workers and abductions within the Oromia region. This trend accompanies the persistent armed confrontations between government forces and non-state armed groups, ongoing since 2019, as noted by the UN agency.
In regions such as Tigray and Afar, there is a notable increase in criminal activities, which continues to pose a significant concern. According to OCHA, the targeting of humanitarian supplies and convoys for looting has seen a marked rise in 2023.
Amidst these challenges, the nation confronts a severe drought situation, leaving over 6.6 million people in dire need of emergency food assistance. Reports of drought and starvation-related deaths have emerged, with nearly 400 individuals, including 25 children, succumbing to starvation in Tigray within a single month.
Selamawit Kassa, the State Minister of Government Communication Service, recently disclosed in a briefing that 9.2 billion birr is required to provide emergency food assistance to the drought-affected population.
According to government sources, over the past six months, 11 billion birr has been disbursed for the distribution of food aid to vulnerable segments of society impacted by the ongoing drought. Of the total amount, 36% of the funds were sourced from external channels, with the federal government covering the remainder. AS