Aid convoys led by the U.N.’s World Food Program (WPF) have entered Ethiopian territory controlled by Tigrayan rebels for the first time since December, bringing much-needed food to starving communities.
The WFP tweeted that its aid convoy arrived in Ethiopia’s Afar region Friday, and that it was headed to the Tigray region, with upwards of 500 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies for people on the edge of starvation.
Rights and aid groups have been warning of a catastrophe since food aid to Tigray was halted in mid-December.
They have been calling on the Ethiopian government to allow aid deliveries to Tigray, where more than 5 million people have been facing hunger.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of humanitarian Affairs says it was only able to reach less than 800,000 people before authorities cut off access.
Head of external affairs for the Tigrayan rebels, Getachew Reda, confirmed on Twitter that 20 WFP trucks on Friday crossed their line of control.
Getachew said it wasn’t about how many trucks were allowed but whether there is a system to ensure unfettered humanitarian access for the needy.
The Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels have been blaming each for being obstacles to aid deliveries, despite a March agreement for a humanitarian truce.
The WFP said another aid convoy was on the way to the Afar region, where more than 300,000 people have been displaced by the war.
The WFP tweeted that a thousand metric tons of food would arrive in northern Afar Friday for communities in dire need.
The WFP thanked the Afar regional government and communities for supporting the convoy’s safe passage.
The much-needed food aid comes just a day after U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Tracey Jacobson visited the Afar region to discuss with officials the humanitarian situation there.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2021 gave $100 million to the WFP to support its northern Ethiopia aid response.
The U.S. has also committed more than $90 million in humanitarian and development aid to the Afar region for 2022.