By Cecilia Ologunagba
The World Food Programme (WFP) has resumed operations in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, after fighting halted the emergency response last week, although the agency warned that serious challenges continue to threaten the entire humanitarian response.
Spokesperson for Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric said this while briefing correspondents at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.
Dujarric said WFP on Thursday reached 10,000 people displaced by conflict with emergency food assistance and gave nutritionally fortified food to 3,000 women and children, many suffering from malnutrition.
According to him, the agency hopes to reach 30,000 people in Northwest Tigray by the weekend.
A bridge leading to Tigray that was critical for delivering supplies was destroyed earlier this week, according to reports.
In response to questions on bridges, the Spokesman said humanitarian colleagues could confirm that one bridge over the Tekeze river connecting Western Zone and the rest of Tigray was destroyed and rendered unusable.
“The UN has unconfirmed reports of other destruction.
“The destruction and vandalisation of vital infrastructure are seriously threatening the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people, who need it the most, as well as access to civilians with essential services, goods and livelihoods.
“All parties to the conflict must protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in compliance with international humanitarian law,’’ he said.
Dujarric said electricity and telecommunications remained cut off and banking services were still not available.
“While road access from and to Tigray for humanitarian supplies remains blocked, staff movement from Mekelle to Afar was indeed possible as of yesterday (Thursday).
“Meanwhile, five UNICEF trucks with water, sanitation, hygiene and health and nutrition supplies are waiting to enter Tigray pending approval from federal authorities.
“There are still no flights in and out of the region through the Government of Ethiopia has announced the possibility that the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights could resume this weekend,’’ he said.