Sixteen months into a civil war that killed thousands of Ethiopians and brought devastation to millions of others, the government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan regional authority have agreed to a humanitarian truce and cessation of hostilities respectively to allow the delivery of desperately needed aid to the people of Tigray.
A drought resulting from three consecutive poor rainy seasons has caused meagre harvests in Ethiopia. Even in times of peace, people in the hardest-hit areas would have needed food aid. However, the fighting between government troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, has exacerbated an already bad situation into a humanitarian disaster. According to the United Nations, over 90 percent of Tigray’s 5.5 million people are in dire need of food aid.
Also in need of aid are people in neighboring regions of northern Ethiopia, particularly in Afar and Amhara states, who have been affected by the strife in Tigray. All told, some 9.4 million people in Ethiopia need urgent humanitarian aid.
Humanitarian aid is available, but aid groups said their convoys had been prevented from delivering to the Tigray region due to road blocks and conflict. Since December 2021, the only aid to be delivered to the region has come by airplane, preventing the delivery of both food and fuel. The two warring parties blamed each other for blocking the convoys carrying humanitarian aid.
However, on March 24, the government of Ethiopia announced an indefinite humanitarian truce and in response, the TPLF stated it would work to ensure the success of the cessation of hostilities.
On April 1 and 2, two humanitarian convoys from USAID partner UN World Food Programme transported emergency food aid, fuel, and other needed supplies to the Tigray and Afar regions, as well as a small convoy from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“The United States welcomes steps by the Government of Ethiopia and regional authorities to implement a cessation of hostilities. We commend them on the delivery of humanitarian assistance over recent days to Ethiopians in the Tigray and Afar regions. Over one hundred thousand Ethiopians will receive life-saving food from the two initial convoys that have mobilized in the past three days,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We urge all parties to build upon this positive humanitarian development to take the difficult next steps to realize peace in northern Ethiopia.”