Ethiopia: UN concern mounts over shortages, baby welfare, in ongoing Tigray disaster |
Fighting between the national army and regional armed forces began a month ago and many people have been without electricity, running water, banking, or communications ever since.
“OCHA has raised concerns about the shortage of medical care, which affects the ability of health workers to support the population and disrupt critical services, including women who are pregnant or giving birth,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told New York.
Fears of child protection are increasing
Meanwhile, two senior UN officials have expressed deep concerns about the situation of children trapped in the ongoing crisis.
Virginia Gamba, Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, and Dr. Najat Maalla Mjid, UN chief’s special envoy on violence against children, issued a joint statement on Tuesday.
They called on all sides to “do everything possible to better protect children and all civilians, uphold human rights and ensure humanitarian access for the provision of much-needed aid”.
The fighting in Tigray has forced thousands to seek safety in neighboring Sudan. The experts found that the UN refugee agency UNHCR estimates that around 45 percent of cross-border commuters are children.
Protecting and delivering emergency aid to these children must be a priority for all responding to the crisis, while welcoming an agreement between the United Nations and the Ethiopian authorities on access to humanitarian aid.
“Immediate and unhindered access”
“I urge everyone involved to give all children immediate and unhindered access to humanitarian aid,” said Ms. Gamba.
The declaration also called on the parties to ensure that children affected by the conflict are protected from all forms of violence and abuse, including sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking and recruitment.
Children detained for national security reasons must also be treated primarily as victims and according to juvenile standards.
“I call on all parties to provide the children with the necessary support, including the identification of unaccompanied and separated children, family tracing and reunification, family-based alternative care where appropriate, and access to education and health services, including mental health and psychosocial support” said Mrs. M’jid.
“Children should be given the opportunity to live the peaceful childhoods they deserve,” she added.
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