People have been forced to rely on untreated water to survive following damage and destruction of water infrastructure during conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, according to the United Nations.
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN secretary‑general, said at a 30 Nivember briefing that the UN’s humanitarian partners are “deeply concerned about the plight of civilians” in the region, especially in the capital of Mekelle.
A month of fighting between government’s federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is believed to have killed thousands of people, while thousands of refugees have fled to neighbouring Sudan.
“Our humanitarian colleagues have received reports of critical shortages of medical supplies in Mekelle and across Tigray to treat people injured during the clashes,” Dujarric said.
Even before recent fighting began, civilians in Mekelle, which is home to nearly half a million people, had endured weeks of fuel, cash and basic commodity shortages. Civilian infrastructure had also been damaged.
“There’s a shortage of water. Water plants have been destroyed. There’s a shortage of fuel. Banks have been closed, which means markets have been closed. There’s a humanitarian toll. There’s an economic toll, which has a direct impact on the humanitarian situation,” continued Dujarric.
“We have a small number of UN staff and NGO staff present in Mekelle, but they are cut off. The communications are extremely difficult, and we’re very worried about the people in Mekelle, and we’re concerned about our colleagues, as well.”
Dujarric said that the UN acknowledged the Ethopian federal government’s stated commitment to ensure that humanitarian assistance is made available to impacted people, and called for “full, unconditional and immediate humanitarian access to reach people in need in Mekelle and across the Tigray Region”.