Shipment courier

First aid shipment arrives in Tigray after historic ceasefire

First aid for months has arrived in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, aid groups said on Tuesday.

A convoy carrying 40 tons of essential medical and surgical equipment arrived in the regional capital of Mekele on Tuesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

The organization’s Ethiopian official hailed the delivery as a “huge relief” after two years of siege in the country’s northern region, in a bloody conflict that has claimed an estimated 600,000 lives.

Two million people have been displaced during two years of fighting between the federal government and Tigray forces. A blockade has been imposed on the region, home to 5 million people, causing famine and a severe shortage of health care.

“The region’s health system is under extreme pressure and these deliveries are a lifeline for people in need of medical assistance,” said Nicolas von Arx of the ICRC.

It is the first relief delivery since the breakdown of a previous ceasefire in August, the aid group said.

Earlier this month, the warring parties agreed to end hostilities following African Union-brokered talks in South Africa. On Sunday, an agreement was signed in Nairobi to provide humanitarian access to Tigray. The government has said it now controls 70% of Tigray and says aid is “coming like never before”.

Last week, the World Health Organization called for a massive influx of food and medicine to the region, saying desperately needed aid had not yet been allowed through.

“A lot of people are dying from treatable diseases. Many people are starving,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, from Tigray, told a news conference.

Prior to the deal, medics in the beleaguered region had warned of severe shortages and deaths from preventable diseases.

In August, the UN said at least 400,000 people in Tigray were living in “famine-like” conditions, with humanitarian efforts hampered by “delays and arbitrary restrictions” and the government using starvation as a weapon. of war.

The fighting in Tigray has drained $1 billion from the country’s reserves, Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.

The conflict began after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops to Tigray in 2020, after accusing the Tigray People’s Liberation Front – a group that has spent decades at the center of Ethiopian politics – of having attacked federal army camps.

The AU is monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire, which has been hailed as a “new dawn” for Ethiopia and the wider region.

Updated: November 15, 2022, 5:53 p.m.