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News: US accuses Fed. Gov’t of stalling aid access into Tigray; OCHA says access hindered due to ‘bureaucratic and logistical’ reasons, calls for unfettered humanitarian access

Ned Price, Spokesperson for the State Department. Photo: Screengrab

By Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan

Addis Abeba, September 02/2021 – In corresponding statements, the United States States department and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) complained of the worsening humanitarian situation in Tigray, blamed the delay in delivery of assistance on the Federal government and called for end of hostilities and unhindered, unfettered access to population in need. 

Yesterday, the spokesperson of the U.S. State Department Ned Prices discussed the worsening situation in Tigray. He said, highlighting the worsening humanitarian crisis, “Nearly one month after the USAID administrator was on the ground there in Ethiopia, she emphasized the dire humanitarian catastrophe that faces 5,2 million. The situation on the ground has gotten worse since then.”

”The truth is that access has been limited to but a trickle by the government of Ethiopia…”

Ned Price, Spokesperson U.S. State Department

He reiterated calls for a negotiated ceasefire and unfettered access to humanitarian assistance, he said, “The United States has called for a negotiated ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian access.” He further said humanitarian access into Tigray is being hindered by the Federal government, he said “The truth is that access has been limited to but a trickle by the government of Ethiopia. Warehouses sit empty in Tigray, because the government has put a stranglehold around the region, trucks with life saving assistance remain idle as administrator Power lamented a month ago, while desperate Ethiopians slide closer to famine.” 

The spokesperson concluded his remarks on Ethiopia by adding, “We are concerned of any and all reports of humanitarian assistance being diverted from those for whom it is intended, humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach population in need by the government of Ethiopia and all parties that include the TPLF, these parties must cease violence that only worsens the current situation.” 

“The only access route to Tigray, via Afar [using the Semera-Abala corridor], has been inaccessible since 22 August due to insecurity and bureaucratic and logistical challenges.” 

OCHA

On its part OCHA complained in a briefing it released yesterday about the hindering of humanitarian access to Tigray by the federal government. The briefing read, “OCHA reports that the humanitarian situation in Tigray is worsening, with stocks of relief aid, cash and fuel running very low or depleted. Partners have run out of stocks for food distribution, with the exception of some areas where supplies had already been dispatched, “ it continued highlighting challenges facing the humanitarian operation in the region. “The only access route to Tigray, via Afar [using the Semera-Abala corridor], has been inaccessible since 22 August due to insecurity and bureaucratic and logistical challenges.” 

The briefing further highlighted other challenges facing the humanitarian operations in Tigray, including fuel and cash shortages. It said, “Humanitarian partners estimate that 100 trucks of food, non-food items, and fuel need to enter Tigray every day to sustain an adequate response. Since 12 July to date, less than 10 percent of the required trucks have gone in.” 

“Since July 12, only 282,000 litters of fuel have reached Tigray, and none since 16 August.” 

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OCHA

It continued disclosing that amount of money needed to sustain operations in Tigray, “About US$7 million, equivalent to 300 million Ethiopian Birr, is needed every week to sustain humanitarian operations in Tigray – including for staff payment, local procurement, and cash-based assistance – but only 47 million Birr has been brought in since 12 July.”

In addition,  it disclosed that a minimum of 200,000 litres of fuel are required for humanitarian operations every week and said, “Since July 12, only 282,000 litters of fuel have reached Tigray, and none since 16 August.” 

Moreover, the briefing discussed the humanitarian situation in Afar and Amhara regions. It said, “Meanwhile, the spillover of the conflict in Tigray into neighbouring Afar and Amhara continues to affect civilians resulting in food insecurity, displacement, and the disruption of livelihoods. Some 1.7 million people are estimated to be facing food insecurity in Afar and Amhara.” 

Similar to calls by the State Department, OCHA called on parties to the conflict to allow unfettered humanitarian access, It said, “Parties to the conflict must allow and facilitate timely, unfettered, safe and sustained access to all people affected by the crisis.” This comes days after the USAID mission director to Ethiopia accused all parties to the conflict of stealing aid and called for an end to hostilities and the safe continuance of humanitarian operations in Northern Ethiopia. AS

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