The situation in embattled Tigray of Ethiopia is dire, UN humanitarians said on Thursday, citing hundreds of thousands of people who lack essential services and are still without assistance.
“Economic activity, electricity, communication and basic services remain largely disrupted, especially in rural areas, where two-thirds of the population lives,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a release.
Banks remain closed, except in Mekelle, the capital city of Tigray.
The conflict disrupted public administration and the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide essential services, OCHA said. During the November harvest season, the fighting broke out, leaving unharvested crops in fields and a lack of food in markets.
The onslaught of COVID-19 and an infestation of desert locusts contributed to rising malnutrition. The conflict cut key vital supply access, it said.
Some 1.3 million children are out of school since the beginning of the conflict. Many schools are now sheltering internally displaced people.
There are reports of separated children, forced recruitment, missing family members and severe sexual and gender-based violence allegations.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 80 percent of the hospitals remain unfunctional, while medical supplies delivered are not sufficient, the humanitarians said.
The United Nations continues to call for full, immediate, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to provide urgent assistance and protection to those in need, OCHA said.
“The United Nations is encouraged that recent high-level visits have resulted in productive exchanges with Ethiopian authorities, who appreciate the potential for further deterioration should humanitarian needs continue to go unmet. The United Nations looks forward to making progress on the assurances received at the highest levels.”
Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the government’s positive engagement with senior UN officials. The visitors included High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, Undersecretary-General for Security and Safety Gilles Michaud and the World Food Programme’s executive director David Beasley.
Guterres said he was seriously concerned over the situation in the Tigray region.