The conflict in Tigray has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, internally and externally, as well as adversely impacting upon those that were already in need of humanitarian assistance. The UK has been consistent in calling for free and unfettered humanitarian access to those people in need, now estimated at 4.5 million. The Foreign Secretary raised the need for humanitarian access to Tigray with Prime Minister Abiy during his recent visit to Ethiopia and pressed for a political dialogue to bring lasting peace to the region. I re-enforced the urgency of the need for humanitarian access when I spoke with the Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK on 24 February.
The UK is working closely with humanitarian and development agencies to make sure aid reaches civilians affected by the fighting. UK-funded aid agencies in Tigray are delivering support in challenging circumstances, including food, shelter, water and healthcare. A joint humanitarian and political team from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa visited Mekelle on 5 March. They met with the provisional administration of Tigray, the mayor of Mekelle, humanitarian agencies and people displaced by the violence. The Embassy team heard harrowing accounts of human rights violations, the challenges of aid delivery and how some of the £15.4 million of UK Aid is helping to support those affected by the Tigray conflict. The Government of Ethiopia must act now to protect its people.