The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns that at least 3,024 children separated from their families have been identified in northern Ethiopia, mainly from Shire, a town in the Tigray region, against which the Ethiopian government has been on an armed offensive since November.
Ethiopia: Community Clashes Killed 66, Thousands Displaced
The UNICEF Communications Chief James Elder explained that humanitarian efforts to find the children's families have not been successful due to factors such as insecurity in the region and the lack of governance structures outside of Mekele, Ethiopia's capital city.
On Monday, the World Health Organization's (WHO) Health Emergencies director Mike Ryan reported that one million people have been displaced by the violence and some 2.5 million people in rural areas have no access to basic services.
"The Tigray situation could not be more appalling. People could not need more support and help," he said, adding that "it is very difficult to overstate the extent of the humanitarian and health crisis currently being experienced in Tigray."
On March 26, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised to withdraw the troops deployed in Tigray. This, however, has not yet happened and human rights defenders accuse the military of committing "atrocities" against the population.
Doctors Without Frontiers (MSF) reported that five hospitals registered over 800 cases of sexual violence against Tigrayan women, most of whom were gang-raped by soldiers and forced to travel long distances to reach a health center.
"I saw great destruction of essential service systems on which many children depend for survival. I also heard heartbreaking accounts of rape and sexual violence from children and women," Elder acknowledged after his field trip.