Red Cross makes first medical delivery to Tigray since September

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Wednesday made its first delivery of medical supplies to the Tigrayan capital Mekele since last September, it said.

The ICRC said the urgently-needed supplies and essential drugs, which were flown in, would be distributed to facilities across Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray.

The northern region is under what the United Nations calls a de facto blockade that is preventing life-saving medicine and food from reaching millions, including hundreds of thousands in famine-like conditions.

On Sunday, Ethiopia said it would allow more flights “to augment the land transportation” of food and medicine into Tigray.

“It is a huge relief that this first shipment is reaching hospitals,” Apollo Barasa, health coordinator at the ICRC delegation in Ethiopia, said in a statement.

“This assistance is a lifeline for thousands of people, and I can’t emphasise enough how crucial it is that these deliveries continue.”

The ICRC said it was planning to organise further flights carrying medical aid within the coming weeks, and send a convoy by road, once the security conditions allow.

Northern Ethiopia has been beset by conflict since November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray after accusing the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, of attacks on federal army camps.

Rebels in Tigray said Tuesday they had been provoked into launching “robust” military operations in neighbouring Afar, dampening hopes for a possible ceasefire.

The Geneva-based ICRC said it would continue providing medical assistance to health facilities in the northern Amhara and Afar regions, which have also seen healthcare provision severely impacted by the conflict.

“Medical personnel in the north of Ethiopia work in extremely difficult conditions, responding to the urgent needs of the people,” Barasa said.

“The ICRC reminds all parties to the conflict that they must facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who need it most.”

The World Health Organization says it has not been permitted to send medicine or medical supplies into Tigray since last July.

© Agence France-Presse

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