French President Emmanuel Macron called for the opening of talks to end hostilities in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, the Elysee Palace said in a statement on Saturday.

The statement came after calls Macron held earlier in the day with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Sudanese counterpart Abdalla Hamdok.

Macron also said all restrictions should be lifted to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid in Tigray, where thousands of children could suffer life-threatening malnutrition, according to the United Nations children’s agency.

Food crisis

Meanwhile, the UN’s Food Agency has warned that it will run out of humanitarian food aid in Ethiopia’s Tigray region by Friday as hundreds of thousands of people in the region already face famine conditions. This as the UN’s top humanitarian official Martin Griffiths on Thursday, began a six-day mission to the country pointing to a range of challenges on top of the impacts of the conflict associated with floods, a desert locust infestation, chronic food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In the Tigray region alone, an estimated 5.2 million people or about 90% of the population, need humanitarian assistance.  

UN concerned by famine creeping into Ethiopia’s Tigray region:

The United Nations Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, will meet with high-level Ethiopian government officials and representatives of the humanitarian and donor communities during his six-day visit to the country. A visit that comes after the World Food Programme’s Executive Director David Beasley this week sounded the alarm that his agency would run out of food in Tigray by this Friday with 170 trucks laden with supplies unable to reach its intended destination.  

LUN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, says humanitarian officials continue to report major challenges to accessing Tigray with humanitarian assistance.  

“The last convoy reached Mekelle on 12 July, yet an estimated 500 to 600 trucks of relief items are needed every week to meet mounting humanitarian needs. All roads into Tigray from the Amhara region remain closed due to restrictions and insecurity. The only possible road through the Afar region is inaccessible since 19 July, following an attack on a World Food Programme convoy a day earlier,” says Haq. 

Ethiopia’s government has blamed the aid delivery problems on forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, as the eight-month-old war appears to be spreading to other parts of the country’s northern regions despite a unilateral ceasefire declared by the government in June on humanitarian grounds.  

“Nutrition partners will also soon run out of the essential Ready to Use Formula to treat an estimated 4,000 severely malnourished children every month,” continues Haq.  – Additional reporting Sherwin Bryce-Pease