Full-scale humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ethiopia

2020-11-17 16:59:04
Full-scale humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ethiopia

The two-week long conflict in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray is developing into a "full-scale humanitarian crisis", the UN has stated.

At least 27,000 people have thus far fled to neighbouring Sudan, and the UN has announced that its teams there are overwhelmed.

Fighting began after Ethiopia's government accused the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls Tigray, of treason.

The TPLF considers the federal government to be illegitimate.

The conflict has also reportedly resulted in the death of hundreds, but getting information from the Tigray is tough as there is a virtual communications blackout.

The UN fears that the numbers fleeing Ethiopia may be just a fraction of those forced from their homes by the two-week long fighting; however, for the moment aid agencies have no access to Tigray.

Regional powers Kenya and Uganda have asked for negotiations so as to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

The Ethiopian government has, nevertheless, ruled out sitting down for talks with the TPLF who it considers to be a "clique" that is intent on destroying the country's constitutional order.

On Tuesday Ethiopia's Prime Minister Mr. Abiy Ahmed announced that the military operation in Tigray was entering its "final phase", noting that a three-day ultimatum has been given to armed groups in Tigray to surrender had expired.

The UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, stated that "a full-scale humanitarian crisis is unfolding" and thousands were fleeing the current deadly fighting in Tigray region.

The agency was "on stand-by to provide assistance in Tigray when access and security allow" spokesman Babar Baloch said at a Geneva news briefing.

"There may be massive displacement inside Tigray and that is of course a concern and we try to prepare the best way possible," Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said at the briefing.

In a Facebook post Mr. Abiy thanked TPLF fighters that took advantage of the three-day deadline to switch sides yet he did not give the exact number of those who did.

He also stated that his government "is ready to receive and reintegrate our fellow Ethiopians fleeing to neighbouring countries".

Mr. Abiy also led Ethiopians in a moment to thank the federal troops who are currently participating in the Tigray operation.

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