Tigray's humanitarian crisis deepens as Ethiopian troops target civilians
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia | The current crisis in the Tigray region has continued to deteriorate as the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] continue to ransack several villages, even weeks after the United Nations raised a red alert over the matter.
A report done by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] shows that gross violations against civilians have escalated with many instances of sexual abuses being reported daily in the Tigray region, especially the Mekele administrative capital.
The United Nations has persistently asked for the de-escalation of the crisis with the team facing difficulties in reaching out to victims, some who are of the tender age and in need of urgent medical care and psychological support.
"Gross violations and abuses against civilians, including sexual violence, continue to be reported," reads part of the report. "The level of violence and the age of many victims calls for a robust mental health and psychosocial support [MHPSS] response, in addition to immediate access to medical services."
According to OCHA, the access situation in Tigray is "highly fluid and constantly changing". While there had been improvement in access over the past weeks, this week witnessed widespread insecurity constraining humanitarian partners’ ability to move, OCHA said in the report.
Tigray region was converted into a conflict zone after the Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] launched an assault against the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF], an ethnic political faction in Ethiopia, which had opposed the federal government.
Also, some authentic reports indicate that a contingent of troops from Eritrea also participated in the crisis, especially during the grand capture of Mekele town, the regional administrative capital of Tigray. The troops have since pulled out according to Ethiopia.
However, OCHA noted: "There have been sporadic incidents that have impacted this road in recent weeks, but for only short periods of time. Heavy fighting seems to have largely subsided in areas bordering Eritrea in Eastern and the northern Woredas of North-Western and Central Zones."
"Humanitarian partners in Tigray continue to operate in a high risk environment due to the volatility of the security situation, with armed clashes evolving in intensity and geographical scope rapidly," added the statement from the UN body.
Among others, the OCHA team wants authorities to deploy trained and neutral police forces to protect essential services is crucial. The team will help avert security crisis in the region, which has struggled with stability for several months.
Further, they want restoration of the banking, electricity, basic communications and water services will alleviate suffering of displaced people and of vulnerable groups including women, children, people with disabilities and older people, and enable the scale up of response operations.