ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) on Monday said a convoy of 50 trucks with 900 metric tons of food as well as other emergency supplies have arrived in Mekele, capital of Ethiopia’s restive Tigray region.
The region came under international spotlight after Ethiopia’s federal government launched a military operation on Nov. 4, 2020, a day after Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces, killing and maiming soldiers in addition to looting sizable military hardware.
In a statement, WFP said it was the first humanitarian convoy to reach Tigray since the UN food agency restarted operations in the region on July 2.
The statement said that double the number of trucks that arrived in Mekele on Monday needs to be moving every day to meet the vast humanitarian needs in the region.
“With almost 4 million people in need of emergency food assistance in Tigray, WFP needs to transport over 10,000 metric tons of food and 150,000 litres of fuel every week on behalf of the humanitarian sector,” it added.
WFP Emergency Coordinator Tommy Thompson welcomed the clearance given by the Ethiopian government for the convoy’s safe passage into Tigray region.
However, Thompson said: “Our stocks of food and fuel are still at alarmingly low levels. WFP and other emergency responders need guarantees of regular and secure passage every day to save lives and livelihoods at scale across the region.”
“We are still operating hand-to-mouth. For fuel alone, we need 20 tankers to reach Tigray each month. At this rate, WFP cannot hope to scale up to reach over 2 million people in need of food assistance in Tigray,” Thompson said.
Last month, Ethiopia announced a unilateral cease-fire to allow farmers to make use of the current main rainy season for harvesting.
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