UN concerned over Ethiopia's Tigray conflict widening

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UNITED NATIONS, July 23 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday expressed his deep concern over the fighting in Ethiopia's Tigray spreading into the neighboring Afar region and its impact on civilians, his deputy spokesman said.

"He (Guterres) reiterates his call for unfettered humanitarian assistance, for all hostilities to stop and for urgent steps towards a sustainable resolution of the conflict," said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Afar regional government estimates more than 54,000 people have been displaced from Yalo, Golina and Awra districts due to clashes, with the risk of further displacement in neighboring districts should fighting continue to spread in the region.

The Afar regional authority reportedly identified school buildings in Semera, the regional capital, to house displaced people, while some others are staying with relatives in Logia town, said OCHA.

The displaced people need food, non-food items, emergency shelter, health services, water, sanitation and hygiene, the office said.

About 200,000 people in the Afar region, mainly at the border areas with Tigray, have been severely affected since the start of the Tigray crisis last November. They suffered blackouts of electricity and telecommunications, lack of banking services and movement restrictions, OCHA said.

While there are improvements in aid access within Tigray, the vital road link between Afar and Tigray via Semera remains restricted due to security reasons, it said.

The blockage makes the movement of humanitarian personnel not possible for now, and prevents food stock, fuel and other humanitarian goods from entering Tigray.

"It's clear that this is not good for civilians throughout the northern part of Ethiopia, in fact beyond the Tigray region itself," said Haq. "The World Food Programme (WFP) has made it very clear that we have been having problems with our access and with the treatment of our vehicles. There have been difficulties."

After an attack on its trucks on Sunday, the WFP called for a cease-fire to scale up the humanitarian response and for all routes opened urgently to reach those most in need, he said. Enditem

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