The World Food Programme warned on Friday that as a result of the nearly two-year conflict in Ethiopia, almost half the people in the Tigray region are in dire need of food, but due to insufficient fuel supplies, aid groups struggle to reach the population.
Only 1,750,000 liters of fuel had entered Tigray since April 1, which is less than 20% of what the humanitarian needs monthly in the region if all supplies were in, the UN agency said. The increase in the number of people in Tigray needing food aid is reflecting the impact of the fuel shortage.
Back in January, when the region was under a de facto blockade for six months, 83% cent of people needed food aid, but the number increased to 89% as aid workers are struggling to distribute the food that started entering Tigray again in April.
The percentage of people in severe need of food rose from 37% in January to 47% in August.
The WFP report says that the ability of people to buy food in Tigray, which is home to around 5.5 million people, is hampered by the interrupted services such as banking and telecommunications, which were cut days after the national army and allied forces pulled out a year ago.
The UN agency said that malnutrition rates have skyrocketed- and are expected to worsen – as people enter peak hunger season until the October harvest although the aid delivery resumed after the unilateral ceasefire the federal government declared in March.
Malnutrition rates are especially evident among the most vulnerable population: a third of children under five and half of pregnant or lactating women in Tigray are malnourished, leading to stunting and maternal death.
An estimated 13 million people in the war-affected Tigray and the neighboring regions of Afar and Amhara need food aid, which 44% increase compared to the previous WFP report released in January.