"Humanitarian crisis" growing for refugees from Ethiopia’s Tigray

More than 27,000 refugees have fled violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, crossing into Sudan after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered military operations in Tigray on Nov. 4. 

People are facing food insecurity and the threat of disease, among other challenges as roads and airports are closed and humanitarian supplies could soon run out.

Abiy said on Tuesday that the "final" offensive in the Tigray region will be completed in the coming days. 

Government forces and those of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have been locked in fighting for two weeks.

Abiy said a three-day deadline to the Tigray region’s leaders and special forces expired Tuesday. 

“We are marching to Mekele to capture those criminal elements,” Ethiopia’s minister in charge of democratization, Zadig Abraha, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. The final stage, he said, will be "a very brief operation.”

The UN World Food Program is supporting local humanitarian efforts to provide fuel for vehicles and generators in remote areas. 

The UN Humanitarian Air Service has also increased the number of flights for aid workers.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR now describes the flight from Tigray as a "full-scale humanitarian crisis."

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