“Of the three million people targeted to receive emergency shelter and non-food items, only 347,000 people, that is about 12 per cent, had been reached since 3 May. With the start of the rainy season, our humanitarian colleagues warn that it is critical that aid agencies can provide minimal dignified shelter for the displaced,” the statement added.
Between March 27 and May 5, the government, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners provided food aid to more than 1.2 million people in 32 districts.
Dujarric added that the situation was “fluid and unpredictable.”
On April 21, after being thwarted repeatedly by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops, a CNN team reporting with the permission of Ethiopian authorities traveled from the regional capital Mekelle to the besieged city of Axum, two weeks after it had been sealed off by the military. An aid convoy also made the seven-hour journey.
Many aid agencies are still being barred from the besieged city, where one of the few hospitals operating for miles is running out of essential supplies, including oxygen and blood, humanitarian workers working in the region told CNN.
At the Axum University Teaching and Referral Hospital, CNN interviewed the father of 7-year-old Latebrahan from Chila, who was being treated for malnutrition. Like many other rural border towns, Chila has been blocked off from receiving aid since the conflict began six months ago. Humanitarian workers say famine could have already arrived there and they would have no way of knowing.
“Based on guesswork there is a sense that in these areas that we are not able to access, out in the countryside for instance, places are falling into pockets of famine. But we’re not able to verify that and that’s part of the problem,” Thomas Thompson, the WFP’s emergency coordinator, told CNN.
Eritrean soldiers have been blocking and looting food relief in multiple parts of Tigray, including in Samre and Gijet, southwest of Mekele, according to a leaked document from the Emergency Coordination Centre of Tigray’s Abiy-appointed interim government obtained by CNN. In a PowerPoint presentation dated April 23, the center states that Eritrean soldiers have also started showing up at food distribution points in Tigray, looting supplies after “our beneficiaries became frightened and [ran] away.”
Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Meskel has rejected these claims.
Following CNN’s report, USAID on Thursday called again for full, unhindered access to Tigray.
“We are seeing a trend towards more restricted humanitarian access in Tigray,” a spokesperson told CNN. “For example, as of May 12 access to Axum is possible, but inconsistent across our partners and changes on a day-to-day basis.”
“We have called for full and unhindered access consistently since the start of the crisis. This is absolutely critical for the humanitarian community to scale up its response efforts to save lives and alleviate suffering in Tigray.”
CNN reported Wednesday that Eritrean troops, in coordination with Ethiopian forces, had once more closed off key aid routes in central Tigray.
Eliza Mackintosh wrote from London and Richard Roth reported from the United Nations in New York. Jennifer Hansler, Nima Elbagir, Barbara Arvanitidis and Alex Platt contributed to this report.