A new aid convoy of 47 trucks and three fuel tankers was on its way to Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region, the UN’s World Food Programme said Thursday, following a conditional humanitarian truce between the government and Tigrayan rebels.
The 17-month war between government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has created a humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia and sparked famine fears in Tigray, which has been under a de facto blockade for many months according to the UN.
On April 1, the WFP said 13 trucks loaded with food supplies had reached the Tigrayan capital Mekele, the first aid convoy to reach the stricken region by road since mid-December.
It was followed by another convoy a day later by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), carrying medical aid, food and water treatment supplies.
On Thursday, the WFP said on Twitter that its second convoy was on its way to Mekele.
“47 trucks with food, nutrition & other life-saving supplies Plus 3 fuel tankers – fundamental to deliver these items to communities in #Tigray,” it said.
The convoy had encountered a “smooth journey so far with support from all authorities,” it added, as the truce between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the TPLF continues to hold, allowing aid to reach the battered region.
A second convoy from the ICRC also arrived in Mekele on Thursday, carrying food and medical supplies, along with household items, the organisation said on Twitter.
“The convoy also carried essential equipment for the orthopedic rehabilitation centre,” it said.
The war has driven hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of famine, displaced more than two million and left more than nine million in need of food aid, according to the UN.
Nearly 40 percent of Tigray’s six million inhabitants face “an extreme lack of food”, the UN said in January, with fuel shortages forcing aid workers to deliver medicines and other crucial supplies sometimes by foot.
Both the warring sides have issued demands in connection with the truce that was announced last month.
The government has called on the rebels to “desist from all acts of further aggression and withdraw from areas they have occupied” in the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara.
The rebels have in turn urged the Ethiopian authorities “to go beyond empty promises and take concrete steps to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access” to Tigray.
The conflict erupted in November 2020 when Nobel Peace laureate Abiy sent troops into Tigray to topple the TPLF, the region’s former ruling party, saying the move came in response to rebel attacks on army camps.