Some 2.3 million minors are struggling to get basic humanitarian assistance like treatment for malnourishment, critical vaccines, emergency medicines, and water and sanitation supplies, UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for children, said Tuesday.
“We are extremely concerned that the longer access to them is delayed, the worse their situation will become as supplies of food, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of child malnutrition, medicines, water, fuel and other essentials run low,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.
UNICEF called for “urgent, sustained, unconditional and impartial humanitarian access” to the families affected and urged the Ethiopian government to allow the free movement of civilians wishing to seek safety elsewhere.
“Protecting these children, many of whom are refugees and internally displaced, and providing them with humanitarian aid must be a priority,” Fore added.
UNHCR and its partners also need support to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks among the refugees living in overcrowded conditions, including more handwashing stations, PPE kits and information campaigns, the agency said on Friday.
“The situation overall is very fluid and very concerning,” the regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Patrick Youssef, told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Tuesday. “Over a month since the start of the crisis… we’ve witnessed a shortness of food, access to bathing services, but also Mekelle for example has been struggling with water supplies. So basic, basic services.”
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