Despite easing of restrictions, relief efforts in Ethiopia's Tigray challenged: UN

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UNITED NATIONS, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The easing of restrictions in Ethiopia's Tigray region has improved relief efforts. But UN humanitarians said on Monday remaining obstructions hamper sustaining aid operations.

Humanitarian stocks are rapidly depleting inside Tigray, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. Road access is only possible through the Afar region to the east with heavy control by regional and federal authorities.

The United Nations said it continues to call for the restoration of essential services, electricity, communications, commercial flights and the banking system. The services are necessary to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation, it said.

There is access in Tigray to areas previously hard to reach, said OCHA. Humanitarians can reach 4 million out of the 5.2 million people in need, compared with 30 percent in May.

A 54-truck humanitarian convoy with food and fuel, medical supplies and other vital relief items arrived in Mekelle, the regional capital, a week ago, the humanitarians said. It's the first to reach the region in more than two weeks.

However, the supplies are far from adequate to sustain humanitarian assistance, as many more trucks should be arriving daily to meet the needs, the office said.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service managed by the World Food Programme, flew a test flight into Tigray on Saturday and planned a regular schedule beginning on Wednesday, OCHA said.

With humanitarian agencies' reallocation of funds and new funding received, more than 430 million U.S. dollars is required for the humanitarian response in Tigray until the end of this year, OCHA said. Enditem

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