The second flight of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to Tigray, co-organised by the EU, France and Italy, landed in Mekelle airport on 6 October 2021 delivering an additional 10.6 tons of life-saving cargo for the people affected by the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. This is in addition to the 4.4 tons of ready-to-use therapeutic food for severely malnourished children, already delivered to UNICEF as part of the EU's Humanitarian Air Bridge on 11 September 2021.
Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, said: "Urgent supplies are needed in Tigray on a large scale to avert a large-scale famine. In another Team Europe effort, we have activated the Humanitarian Air Bridge with France and Italy to bring relief to civilians in Tigray. However, the aid delivered today covers only a very small part of the needs on the ground: humanitarian aid must be allowed to safely reach all areas where people need immediate life-saving assistance. I urge the Government of Ethiopia to facilitate access, by air and by road, into Tigray and allow humanitarian organisations to work in an independent, impartial and neutral manner, without interference or intimidation. Neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara are also suffering. We call for the protection of civilians and the respect of International Humanitarian Law."
EU Humanitarian Air Bridge
The cargo carried on board this second Humanitarian Air Bridge includes nutrition supplies and humanitarian material for hospitals. It will allow UNICEF to provide nutrition to around 400 malnourished children for 6 to 8 weeks, and covering the basic medical needs for a population of 280.000 people for 3 months. Although the delivery of the cargo is a welcome step in easing the suffering of civilians, it remains minimal in relation to the enormous humanitarian needs on the ground, with the situation continuously deteriorating.
The EU is also mobilising new humanitarian funding of €30 million to address the most acute needs of people affected by the crisis. With this new funding, since the beginning of the crisis in Tigray in November 2020, the EU has channelled some €70 million to humanitarian agencies helping the people affected by the conflict in northern Ethiopia, including Ethiopian refugees in Sudan.
The humanitarian situation in Tigray is dire. More than 5 million people, amounting to 90% of the population are in needs of humanitarian assistance. Compared to the immense needs on the ground, very few trucks have been able to enter into Tigray with urgently-needed humanitarian supplies since mid-July. Shortage of supplies, fuel, cash and telecommunication are constraining and threatening the continuation of humanitarian organisations' operations. The two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights operated to Mekelle are the first humanitarian cargo deliveries by air to have arrived in Tigray since the start of the conflict. With the spreading of the conflict into neighboring regions, needs are also increasing in Afar and Amhara, albeit on a different scale, and being responded to.
Throughout the conflict, humanitarian aid organisations have been facing different challenges and hurdles that constrain their ability to save lives. At the end of July, the Government of Ethiopia suspended the operation of 2 humanitarian organisations for 3 months. On 30 September, the Government ordered the expulsion of 7 United Nations officials from the country. The EU and other donors have urged the Ethiopian authorities to reconsider these decisions and protect humanitarian operations in the country.
The EU has been consistently calling on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, facilitate access for all humanitarian workers to all areas and ensure the safety of humanitarian staff in line with International Humanitarian Law.
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