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"Help Rebuild Tigray, UN": Ethiopia


FILE - Cows walk past a tank damaged in fighting between Ethiopian government and Tigray forces, near the town of Humera, Ethiopia, 3.3.2021

The Ethiopian government said on Tuesday it was tasking a UN agency with helping to rebuild infrastructure in Tigray that was destroyed in the conflict between rebels and federal forces.

The Tigray reconstruction is part of a project financed by the World Bank, which in April gave Ethiopia a $300 million grant to help conflict-hit communities.

The "National Recovery Program" aims to rebuild infrastructure, improve access to essential services and help victims of gender-based violence, the Ethiopian finance ministry said in a statement.

It said the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) would "reconstruct basic service-providing infrastructure" in Tigray, Ethiopia's war-ravaged northernmost region which is largely under the control of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

"UNOPS will implement the project in Tigray until situations in Tigray improve to enable the government to implement the project with its own structure," the ministry said.

It said the other part of the programme involving help for survivors of gender-based violence would be implemented by another party, with negotiations currently taking place.

Several of Ethiopia's international partners suspended aid soon after the Tigray conflict erupted in November 2020 between the government and the TPLF.

The conflict has been marked by numerous atrocities and a humanitarian crisis that has left millions in need of emergency aid.

In April, the World Bank was the first major financial institution to unblock funds to Ethiopia -- a move that followed the announcement of a "humanitarian truce" in late March.

Since then, fighting has largely halted in Tigray and the government in April authorised the resumption of aid convoys by road to the region, after being suspended for three months.

But Tigray remains in desperate straits, deprived of essential services such as electricity, telecommunications and banking, and the UN has said hundreds of thousands of people are on the brink of famine.

Last month, the World Bank agreed to provide $715 million in grants and loans to help herding communities in Ethiopia hit by the conflict and a devastating drought.

Just days before, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had said for the first time that his government was open to negotiations with the TPLF, the party that had dominated national politics for three decades until he took office in 2018.

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