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Ethiopian PM launches ‘final attack’ against Tigray

UN warns shortages if food and other vital supplies have reached a ‘very critical’ level

ETHIOPIA’S Prime Minister launched a final attack against the Tigray region today, ordering the army to move into the capital following a 72-hour ultimatum for the region’s leaders to surrender. 

The military offensive “has reached its final stage” after three weeks of fighting, PM Abiy Ahmed’s office said. 

Under the plan, tanks and other weaponry can now close in on Mekele, whose residents were warned of “no mercy” if they did not distance themselves from Tigray leaders in time.

The PM’s office also claimed that thousands of Tigray forces surrendered during the 72-hour period. 

It came as the United Nations issued a warning that shortages had reached a “very critical” level in the region.

One million people out of its six million population have been displaced.

Although the UN reported people fleeing Mekele today, communications and transport links remain down, and it is not clear how many people received the warning in time. 

Tigray regional leaders could not be immediately reached. 

Travel blockages are so dire that even within Mekele the UN World Food Programme cannot obtain access to transport food from its warehouses there.

A statement this week from a civil society representative in the region described heavy bombardment of communities elsewhere that has kept many residents from fleeing.

Other people are frantically moving within the Tigray region from one district to another and “living within church compounds, streets, schools, health centres,” the statement warned, and it pleaded for a safe corridor to ship in aid as food runs out.

Abiy, who won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, has rejected what he called international “interference” in the conflict following pleads for an immediate de-escalation, dialogue and humanitarian access. 

Food for nearly 100,000 refugees from Eritrea will be gone in a week, according to the UN.

And more than 600,000 people who rely on monthly food rations haven’t received them this month.

And humanitarian groups and local communities in Sudan are struggling to feed, treat and shelter the more than 40,000 Ethiopian refugees who have fled there. 

Nearly half of the refugee are children under 18. 

Alam Kafa, a wounded refugee, said: “When it is cold, it hurts so much. 

“At night, I have to wrap tightly with a blanket so I can sleep. But I don’t sleep at night.”

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