UN, Ethiopia sign deal for aid access to embattled Tigray

In a breakthrough a month after deadly conflict cut off Ethiopia’s Tigray region from the world, the United Nations says it and the Ethiopian government have signed a deal to allow “unimpeded” humanitarian access, at least for areas under federal government control after the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the weekend.

This will allow the first food, medicines and other aid into the region of 6 million people that has seen rising hunger during the fighting between the federal and Tigray regional governments. Each regards the other as illegal in a power struggle that has been months in the making.

For weeks, the UN and others have pleaded for access amid reports of supplies running desperately low for millions of people. A UN humanitarian spokesman, Saviano Abreu, says the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin Wednesday.

“We are of course working to make sure assistance will be provided in the whole region and for every single person who needs it,” he says. The UN and partners are committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” to ensure that aid to Tigray and the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions is “strictly based on needs.”

Ethiopia’s government does not immediately comment.