Statement on humanitarian assistance and food and nutrition security in Ethiopia's Tigray Region
There have been recent positive engagements with the Government of Ethiopia by senior UN officials, including the Under-Secretary General for Safety and Security, the High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme.
These engagements have acknowledged the commendable measures being undertaken by the Government and partners to address humanitarian needs in Tigray. They have also concluded that humanitarian assistance must be expanded and intensified without delay.
The food and nutrition security situation is especially challenging. Latest estimates indicate that 2.5 to 3 million people require emergency food assistance in Tigray region. Reports indicate that the nutrition situation requires greater attention, with young children and pregnant and lactating mothers the most vulnerable. We must do more, together, to help them.
Following consultations with the Government of Ethiopia, WFP can confirm the following, under the existing agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Ethiopia on humanitarian access in Tigray:
- UN and partner agencies are urged to allow all national staff members who were relocated from Tigray in November 2020 to return to their duty stations in the region, subject to relevant UN and partner guidelines. Additional national staff members serving in duty stations outside Tigray can also be redeployed to the region to fill identified capacity gaps, in due consultation with relevant Government bodies;
- Requests from UN and humanitarian partner agencies for movement of international staff into and within Tigray will be reviewed with urgency and receive definitive responses, based on proposed duties and responsibilities. Several previously submitted requests have already been approved and several others will be approved shortly;
- Requests for entry visas for international staff serving in humanitarian agencies will be reviewed with urgency and priority based on proposed duties and responsibilities;
- In keeping with international standards and Ethiopia’s own significant experience with humanitarian assistance, joint Government-partner humanitarian needs assessments will be implemented to ascertain needs and develop responses in accessible areas;
- Armed escorts for humanitarian cargo and personnel will be undertaken as a last resort. Such escorts will be time-bound, of specified duration, and determined on a case-by-case basis, adhering to humanitarian principles and national legal requirements;
- Communication capability will be enhanced for UN and humanitarian partners with significant operations in Tigray, taking into account national legal provisions and network functionality and capacity.
WFP commends the emergency food assistance that the Government and partners have already provided to the people of Tigray since the onset of the crisis, reaching almost 1.7 million people with emergency food distributions. 26,000 Eritrean refugees residing in two camps have also received food and nutrition assistance.
WFP has indicated to the Government its readiness to add to these efforts and has accordingly accepted requests from the Government to:
- augment the transportation capacity of the Government and partners to deliver humanitarian assistance into and within Tigray, especially in rural areas;
- provide emergency food relief assistance to up to 1 million people in Tigray, representing about one-third of currently estimated needs;
- launch a blanket supplementary feeding intervention to assist up to 875,000 nutritionally vulnerable children and pregnant and lactating mothers.
These agreed WFP contributions will require USD 107 million to be implemented over the coming six months in areas and communities jointly identified and prioritized with the Government based on joint assessment where feasible.
WFP will continue to provide food assistance to Eritrean refugees in Tigray region, working closely with the Government’s Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and the UN Refugee Agency.
WFP will also continue to procure and deliver food supplies on behalf of the Government, including 300,000 metric tons of wheat scheduled for delivery from February.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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