UNICEF says over 200 people including more than 100 children were killed in attacks on Internally Displaced Camps in Ethiopia’s conflict-prone northern region on Thursday.
“UNICEF is extremely alarmed by the reported killing of over 200 people, including more than 100 children, in attacks on displaced families sheltering at a health facility and a school in Afar region on Thursday, 5 August.” the statement reads in part.
News reports indicate that the incident occurred after unknown attackers used artillery shells to hit the IDP shelter located in Zone four of Galicoma district last Friday.
Some 30,000 IDPs are said to have been sheltered in the area at the time of the attack as the 8 month conflict that started in Tigray is spreading to other regions. Crucial food supplies were also reportedly destroyed in an area that is already seeing emergency levels of malnutrition and food insecurity
“The intensification of fighting in Afar and other areas neighboring Tigray, is disastrous for children. It follows months of armed conflict across Tigray that have placed some 400,000 people, including at least 160,000 children, in famine-like conditions. Four million people are in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in Tigray and adjoining regions of Afar and Amhara. More than 100,000 have been newly displaced by the recent fighting, adding to the 2 million people already uprooted from their homes.” the statement adds.
As the Tigray conflict spreads to other regions, observers fear that the once-united Horn nation might fall apart.
UNICEF estimates a 10-fold increase in the number of children who will suffer from life-threatening malnutrition in Tigray over the next 12 months. The food security and nutrition crisis is taking place amid extensive, systematic destruction of health and other services that children and communities rely on for survival.
In partnership with Regional Bureaus and humanitarian partners, UNICEF says it is deploying emergency supplies and mobile health and nutrition teams across northern Ethiopia to provide urgent assistance.
“The humanitarian catastrophe spreading across northern Ethiopia is being driven by armed conflict and can only be resolved by the parties to the conflict. UNICEF calls on all parties to end the fighting and to implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Above all, we call on all parties to do everything in their power to protect children from harm.”
Tigray People’s Liberation rebel forces (TPLF) who have been battling Federal government troops launched an offensive in neighboring Amhara and Afar regions after the government withdrew its army from Mekelle, Tigray’s capital, in late June when it declared a unilateral ceasefire.
A few days ago, two Ethiopian opposition political parties, The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Hibir Ethiopia Democratic Party, called for inclusive political dialogue to end conflicts in Ethiopia.
The opposition groups called on warring parties to engage in talks in order to rescue the nation from total chaos.