UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Fighting in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia has led to growing humanitarian needs and affects the delivery of aid into the neighboring Tigray region, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Friday.
More than 200,000 people have been displaced from recent fighting in Afar, OCHA quoted regional authorities as saying. Fighting has also prevented the UN and partners from conducting assessments. However, those displaced are believed to be in urgent need of assistance, said the office.
In accessible areas of Afar, the response continues and over 40,000 people have received food in the past week -- and more than 420,000 people since mid-October, said OCHA.
Delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle road remains suspended due to the insecurity in Afar. The United Nations and partners have suspended or significantly reduced programs due to the lack of supplies and fuel, it said.
During the past week, reduced levels of food assistance was provided primarily to displaced people and host communities in the town of Shire. A World Food Programme food security assessment released last week found that over 80 percent of people in surveyed areas were food insecure, and nearly 40 percent were facing severe food insecurity.
In other parts of Ethiopia, as well as in neighboring Somalia and Kenya, drought conditions are driving up humanitarian needs, said OCHA.
In Ethiopia, the cumulative impact of three successive failed rainy seasons is affecting millions of people. Food, water, health, livelihood support and livestock assistance are priority response. Additional funding is urgently needed to support this response, it said.
Eri Kanako, an associated spokeswoman of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said Friday that the UN Refugee Agency and its partners are rushing aid to more than 20,000 refugees after they fled clashes in Ethiopia's Benishangul Gumuz region, which borders Sudan and South Sudan.
Fighting broke out on Jan. 18 in the town of Tongo -- reportedly between unidentified armed groups and federal forces -- and the nearby camp hosting 10,300 refugees was looted and burned. This followed the looting of another camp in the area in late December. A total of 22,000 people in both camps were then cut off from access and assistance, she told a daily press briefing.
All humanitarian staff had to evacuate, and access to the area, including the two camps, remains impossible. The UN Refugee Agency is working with the Ethiopian government and partners to provide the most urgent assistance to displaced refugees, including hot meals, clean water, and medical care, she said. ■