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WHO: Tigray Needs Immediate Humanitarian Aid

FILE - Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a speech during the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe on Sept. 12, 2022, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The World Health Organization has called for a massive influx of food and medicines into Ethiopia's Tigray region. WHO says desperately needed aid had not yet been allowed in following the cease-fire combatants reached last week.

After two years of bloody conflict with the Ethiopian government, people in Tigray need urgent assistance with access to the region severely restricted, according to WHO.

The conflict between government forces and Tigrayan rebels has plunged Ethiopia's northernmost region into a severe humanitarian crisis, with only a trickle of relief having gotten through.

“Especially after the cease-fire agreement, I was expecting that food and medicine would just flow immediately," he said. "That's not happening. Let's give a chance to peace. But we would also urge the immediate delivery of food and medicine."

Tigrayan WHO chief –also Ethiopia’s Former Health Minister and Foreign Minister–Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the breakthrough cease-fire agreement reached November 2 but warned it was already a week on "and nothing is moving in terms of food aid or medicines."

Tedros calls for reopening basic services such as banking and telecoms and allowing journalists into the region.

“Everything that has happened in the last two years has been done in total darkness, and 6 million people have been completely separated, shut off from the rest of the world as if they don't exist."

The government in Addis Ababa and the Tigrayan rebels reached an agreement after nine days of talks under the aegis of the African Union in Pretoria, South Africa, less than 48 hours before the second anniversary of the outbreak of the war.

The two parties said they would cease hostilities immediately, disarm the rebels, allow the resumption of aid deliveries and restore basic services.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan welcomed the notion of a humanitarian corridor into Tigray but said experience in other crises showed it was vital that the corridor remain open and unrestricted.

"The people in Tigray need immediate, massive, overwhelming assistance now including not just food and health care but also goods and commodities, plus the free movement of staff to deliver the aid. We still remain on standby to take advantage of any opportunity to provide lifesaving assistance to the people there right now.”