The United States said Wednesday it was providing an additional $26 million to address the humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.
The assistance will enable humanitarian agencies to help many of the estimated 6 million to 7 million people in need in the north, “including some of the 900,000 who are facing famine-like conditions, and over 48,000 refugees who have fled from northern Ethiopia to Sudan,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The humanitarian situation “will continue to worsen without a political solution,” Blinken said.
The Ethiopian federal government has been engaged in an armed conflict with forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front for nearly a year.
The government announced a unilateral cease-fire and withdrew its forces from the northern Ethiopian region in June, but the conflict has since spilled into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.
Blinken called for “immediate, full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations and workers” in Tigray. The United Nations has said few humanitarian aid trucks are getting through to the region.
At the U.N. Wednesday, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the situation in northern Ethiopia “continues to be highly unpredictable and volatile. The delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray remains heavily constrained through the only road access route from Afar.”
Dujarric said 211 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray October 6-12, up from 80 a week earlier.
He said the increase is positive, but the number is still not sufficient to meet the region’s needs. For that, he said, 100 trucks must enter the region each day.
Tigrayan leaders and Ethiopian government officials blamed each other’s forces for blocking roads so the trucks cannot reach areas in need.
Last week, Ethiopia expelled seven top U.N. aid officials, saying they were meddling in Ethiopian affairs and had diverted aid to the TPLF. The U.N. said the officials did nothing wrong.
Blinken said the U.S. has provided nearly $663 million in humanitarian assistance for northern Ethiopia since the crisis began.
Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.