A handout photo made available by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) shows Ethiopian refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region posing for a photograph in Hamdayet Reception Center, in the border town of Hamdayet, Sudan, 17 November 2020 | Photo: EPA/LENI KINZLI
A handout photo made available by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) shows Ethiopian refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region posing for a photograph in Hamdayet Reception Center, in the border town of Hamdayet, Sudan, 17 November 2020 | Photo: EPA/LENI KINZLI

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on November 20 called for the opening of "humanitarian corridors" in Ethiopia where fighting since November 4 has led thousands of people to flee to Sudan.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for the opening of "humanitarian corridors" in Ethiopia.

"We are very worried about the situation in Ethiopia," he told reporters in New York on November 20.

"We have been doing everything possible to mobilize humanitarian support for refugees who are already in Sudan," he added.

"We have been asking for the full respect of international humanitarian law and also for the opening of humanitarian corridors and the truces that might be necessary for humanitarian aid to be delivered in the areas of conflict."

Humanitarian agencies ask for a ceasefire

Humanitarian agencies have asked for an immediate temporary ceasefire in norther Ethiopia to enable aid to reach civilians affected by the fighting that erupted on November 4.

The UN wants humanitarian corridors set up following two weeks of war between the Ethiopian military and forces loyal to the powerful political leadership of the Tigray regional State, the Tigray's People Liberation Front (TPLF).

According to reports published last Friday, hundreds of people have died in the conflict and at least 33,000 others have crossed into neighboring Sudan to escape the violence.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said up to 200,000 people will be affected by the violence over the next six months if the conflict continues.

Fisseha Tekle, a researcher for Amnesty International in Ethiopia, said the conflict must be conducted according to international law which provides for the protection of civilians "including access to humanitarian services."

"As much as possible, human rights organizations, like Amnesty, should be given access to monitor the human rights situation'', he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Humanitarian agencies are appealing for 50 million dollars for food and shelter for new arrivals.

Urgent assistance for 2.3 million children, UNICEF

Meanwhile UNICEF has highlighted the dramatic consequences of the conflict on minors, reporting that the violence has left an estimated 2.3 million children in urgent need of assistance, with thousands at risk in refugee camps.

"Inside the Tigray region, restricted access and the ongoing communication blackout have left an estimated 2.3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and out of reach," the organization's Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement published on November 19.

Fore also said that UNICEF "estimates that some 12,000 children -- some of them without parents and relatives -- are among those sheltering in camps and registration centers and are at risk."

Many of the makeshift camps set up in neighboring Sudan after the violence erupted are overcrowded and living conditions are very difficult with limited access to water and food and poor hygiene.

UNICEF said it has requested to provide assistance and to support children living in "extremely harsh" conditions in camps.

Fore urged all sides in the conflict to guarantee humanitarian access and to refrain from using explosives in densely populated areas.

 

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