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2.3 million children in Tigray region of Ethiopia need humanitarian assistance, as thousands flee across border into Sudan

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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore

NEW YORK, 19 November 2020 - “Since armed conflict broke out in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia earlier this month, close to 30,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring Sudan. UNICEF estimates that some 12,000 children – some of them without parents or relatives – are among those sheltering in camps and registration centres and are at risk.

“Conditions for these children are extremely harsh. We are working with our partners to urgently provide much needed life-saving support, including health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene services. With more than 200,000 people expected to cross in the coming days and weeks, additional support is crucial for us to meet the rising needs.

“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.

“Even before the current escalation, at least 54,000 children lived in refugee camps in the region and 36,000 were internally displaced by natural disasters and armed violence. Thousands more have been displaced in the past few weeks.

“We are particularly alarmed by malnutrition rates in the region. Acute malnutrition increased by one third between 2019 and 2020 largely due to the desert locust infestation and COVID-19. I am concerned that, without sustained humanitarian access, many more children will be at risk as malnutrition treatment supplies in the region will last only until December.

“I call upon all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarian organizations urgent, unimpeded and sustained access to all affected communities in order to reach children and families with life-saving assistance.

“Every effort should be made to keep children out of harm’s way, and to ensure that they are protected from recruitment and use in the conflict. Children should also be protected from the risk of sexual and gender-based violence and not separated from their families.

“All parties to the conflict should refrain from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and should protect essential civilian infrastructure such as schools, healthcare facilities and water and sanitation installations.”

Media Contacts
Joe English
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 893 0692
Email: jenglish@unicef.org