The United Nations has issued a warning over shortages that have become extremely critical in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced a “final phase” of the three-week conflict, reported Aljazeera. Tigray currently remains sealed off and its capital is under threat of attack by Ethiopian forces.
According to a new report released by the UN on Thursday, fuel and cash in the Tigray region are running out, more than a million people are displaced and food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week.
The global body said that over 600,000 people who rely on monthly food rations have not received them this month. Travel blockages are so dire that the UN World Food Programme cannot transport food from its warehouses to Tigray’s capital, Mekelle.
Communications links remain severed with the embattled region since the deadly conflict broke out on November 4. Thousands of people have already been killed and there has been widespread destruction from aerial bombardment and ground fighting. More than a million people have been displaced due to the fighting.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy ordered Ethiopia’s military to launch a final offensive against Tigray’s leaders in Mekelle, as the surrender timeframe had expired.
The Ethiopian government had set a 72-hour ultimatum for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces on Sunday to lay down its arms or face an assault on Mekelle, the capital city of 500,000 people.
“The Ethiopian National Defence Forces have now been directed to conclude the third and final phase of our rule of law operations,” Abiy said in a statement on Twitter. “In this final phase, great care will be given to protect innocent civilians from harm. All efforts will be made to ensure that the city of Mekelle, which was built through the hard work of our people, will not be severely damaged.”