UN announces $35.6 mn aid for civilians from Ethiopia's Tigray

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A man stands in front of his destroyed house in Ethiopia's Tigray region, which is due to receive an emergency aid package from the UN

The United Nations announced Thursday a $35.6 million emergency aid package for civilians caught up in fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

Violence broke out in Tigray in early November when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched military operations targeting Tigray's ruling party.

In Ethiopia itself, $25 million will go toward the purchase of medicine and medical gear to help sick or wounded civilians, and to buy food and provide drinking water, the UN said.

In neighboring Sudan, where more than 50,000 people have fled to escape the fighting, another $10.6 million is being disbursed to help these refugees.

"After six weeks of conflict, the civilian toll is mounting. Women and children arrive in Sudan with disturbing stories of violence, deprivation and abuse," said UN emergency relief coordinator Mark Lowcock.

"We need unfettered access now," he said.

Tigray, an impoverished region of about six million people, faced formidable food security challenges before the conflict began, compounded this year by the coronavirus pandemic and the worst desert locust infestation in decades.

Now aid agencies fear the fighting -- which has reportedly killed thousands and displaced many thousands more -- could tip the region into catastrophe

Tensions over aid access have been mounting in recent weeks between Abiy, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, and humanitarian officials.