The outbreak of conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has left some 2.3 million children in urgent need of assistance and thousands more at risk in refugee camps, the UN children’s agency said Friday. Tigray has been rocked by bloody fighting since November 4, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government.
The region of Tigray has been observing violent conflicts and fights for the past few weeks after the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of military operations against the regional government. UNICEF estimates that some 12,000 children – some of them without parents or relatives – are among those sheltering in camps and registration centres and are at risk. Even before the current escalation, at least 54,000 children lived in refugee camps in the region and 36,000 were internally displaced by natural disasters and armed violence. Thousands more have been displaced in the past few weeks. This is the count when hundreds of people have fled the region through Ethiopia’s northern border into the neighbouring Sudan area. This has led to a lack of space in the refugee camps, and the people sheltering there are facing extreme unsanitary and unhygienic conditions, leading to depleting health.
Acute malnutrition increased by one third between 2019 and 2020 largely due to the desert locust infestation and COVID-19. Without sustained humanitarian access, many more children will be at risk as malnutrition treatment supplies in the region will last only until December, UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said.
The UN agency said it has sought to provide urgent assistance and life-saving support for children living in “extremely harsh” conditions in the camps. Fore urged all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian access, and refrain from using explosives in densely populated areas. “Every effort should be made to keep children out of harm’s way, and to ensure that they are protected from recruitment and use in the conflict,” she said.