Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
NEW YORK, 19 March 2021 – “UNICEF remains deeply concerned about the continuing crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia, and its worrying implications for children and their access to basic social services.
“Five months since the start of the conflict, a clearer picture is emerging of killings and sexual violence against women and children in Tigray. The reported murder of at least 20 children at Maryam Dengelat Church last November will continue to haunt families and communities.
“Schools and health centers have been looted, vandalized and occupied by armed forces and groups. Organizations on the ground have reported deliberate attacks on health facilities and warned that the limited health services that are functional are unable to cope with the needs.
“According to assessments conducted at the end of February 2021, violence and looting have left nearly 60 per cent of health care facilities not operational. Some 57 per cent of boreholes in 13 towns surveyed are not functional and a quarter of the region’s schools have sustained damage from the conflict.
“Families continue to flee for their lives.
“We are working with our partners to ensure that critical supplies continue to reach those most in need and that populations can safely access essential services. We are also stepping up our staff presence in the region to respond to the scale of the challenge.
“However, humanitarian aid alone is not enough.
“Monitoring, reporting and protection services for those affected must be urgently expanded to meet the growing needs of survivors.
“Parties to the conflict must ensure that children are protected from harm at all times. Basic service outlets, such as health centers and schools, must be protected and the safety and security of everyone working in and accessing those services guaranteed.”