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Ethiopia: NGO aid convoy arrives in capital of Tigray region

Ethiopia: NGO aid convoy arrives in capital of Tigray region

The first humanitarian aid convoy has entered the capital of Tigray region, Mekelle, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Saturday.

The convoy of seven white trucks that arrived in the city of Mekelle was organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ethiopian Red Cross, the ICRC said.

Over the month of the fighting erupted Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, the civilian population has been suffering from lack of medicine. Healthcare facilities in Mekelle have been paralysed after supplies of drugs and other medical items like surgical gloves ran out.

Due to the armed conflict in the region, the government restricted access to Tigray. The battle between the government and a rebellious brigades in Africa’s second-most populous nation is believed to have killed thousands of people and displaced around one million.

Until Saturday, the United Nations and other NGOs have not been able to deliver aid although the government says it has sent food and other supplies.

The ICRC is the first NGO that entered Tigray region, said Patrick Youssef, the ICRC’s regional director for Africa. Ayder Hospital, the region’s main referral hospital, was forced to shut its intensive care unit and surgical theatre because of the shortages and an inability to run the generator.

“Doctors and nurses have been … weeks without new supplies, running water, and electricity,” Youssef said. “This medical shipment will inject new stocks, help patients, and reduce those impossible life-or-death triage decisions.”

Etiopia’s prime minister Abiy says the government forces have defeated forces loyal to the region’s former ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and struck a deal with the UN to allow aid.

But some aid agencies and donors say the agreement is too restrictive and security remains a problem; one U.N. security team was shot at last weekend.