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Aid convoy enters Ethiopia's Tigray

April 1, 2022

A convoy of aid trucks has entered Tigrayan-controlled Ethiopian territory for the first time in over three months. The UN food agency, the World Food Program, made the announcement on Twitter.

Men carry a sack of food after a delivery of aid in Tigray
The UN says the first aid convoy in three months has entered TigrayImage: Amanuel Sileshi/AFP

Aid trucks entered Tigrayan-held territory in Ethiopia on Friday, the World Food Program (WFP) announced on Twitter.

The UN food agency said it was the first time since December 15 that its convoys had been able to enter areas controlled by Tigrayan forces.

On Twitter, the WFP's dedicated Ethiopia account noted: "Just arrived in Erepti and will soon cross into Tigray, bringing in over 500 mt [metric tons] of urgently needed WFP/partner food and nutrition supplies for communities on edge of starvation." 

"We expect to be in Mekelle soon. Another convoy with over 1,000mt of food is arriving into Northern Afar this afternoon to deliver to communities in dire need," according to the WFP.

Mekelle is the Tigray region's capital, and Erepti is one of the six districts of the neighboring Afar region, currently under Tigrayan control.

Why is this the first food aid convoy to arrive since December?

Malnutrition and food insecurity are rampant in northern Ethiopia, according to the WFP. An estimated 9 million people in Tigray, Amhara and the Afar regions require food assistance due to the country's civil war.

Supplies of food in Tigray are "minimal," according to a report released Thursday by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The main road between Afar's regional capital, Semera, and Tigray has been blocked since the middle of December.

Some supplies that have arrived in Mekelle by air were in scant quantities and insufficient to reach all areas in need, the UN reported.

In the past, leaders in Tigray accused Addis Ababa and Ethiopia's regional governments in Afar and Amhara of blocking aid into Tigray. Addis Ababa and officials in those regions deny the accusations.

The UN repeatedly called on Addis Ababa to get aid into the north of the country and has called food shortages there "man-made."

Why is there a break in the conflict now?

In November 2020, war broke out in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The central government in Addis Ababa has been fighting rebels aligned with the political party in control of the Tigray region, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) for the last 17 months.

In the past week, Addis Ababa has declared an immediate unilateral truce to permit aid into the Tigray region, though matters of enforcement remained unclear.

Tigrayan forces vowed to respect the cease-fire if aid were delivered "within reasonable time."

On Twitter, Getachew Reda, the spokesman for the TPLF, wrote, "20 WFP trucks have made it to our line of control& on their way to Mekelle. This is one good step in the right direction." 

ar/nm (AFP, KNA, Reuters)