Access expands in Ethiopia, improving humanitarian relief delivery

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UNITED NATIONS, March 31 (Xinhua) -- The delivery of humanitarian relief in Ethiopia is improving as access expands in the country's north and south, UN humanitarians said on Friday.

"In the north, access continues to improve and we and our non-governmental organizations' partners have expanded operations in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

In the war-torn, northernmost region of Tigray, more than 4.7 million people have received food assistance so far this year, OCHA said. In neighboring Afar and Amara regions, more than 2.5 million people have received food assistance since mid-November.

Hostilities between the government and Tigray rebels ended in early November after two years of fighting.

"Along with the government, we are also scaling up the response in the south and the east, where some 11 million people in drought-affected areas need emergency food support," the humanitarians said.

OCHA said floods in parts of the Somali region in Ethiopia's southeast impacted nearly 230,000 people last week. Homes, farms and infrastructure were significantly damaged.

"As we are already present in the region for the drought response, we are now mobilizing support for those affected by the floods," the humanitarian office said.

OCHA said that a cholera outbreak in parts of the Oromia and Somali regions is spreading, with more than 2,300 cases reported, twice the number of reported cases in January. According to local authorities, 51 people died from the disease.

"The response is ongoing, but we need more resources to contain the outbreak," OCHA said. Additional funding is critical because of the scale of the needs across Ethiopia.

"We need close to 4 billion U.S. dollars this year, but we have only received 727 million dollars, or 18 percent," said OCHA. Enditem

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