Addis Ababa, Jan 5 (IANS): Conflict in Ethiopia's northern Tigray regional state has displaced 2.2 million people, a government official said.
"There are 2.2 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Tigray, half of them are whose houses were burnt and lost all their properties, the other half fled by foot to regional cities including Axum, Shire, Adigrat and Mekelle," Gebremeskel Kassa, head of the region's Interim Administration Office, told the media on Monday.
"The IDPs are under great risk, and we're undertaking widespread mobilisation in collaboration with the federal government to provide aid to them," he said.
At least 4.5 million people need emergency aid, Kassa said, warning the final figure is likely to be much greater as his office has been unable to make a comprehensive study across the region, Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, majority of the health facilities in the region have been destroyed or were looted during the conflict, he added.
Ethiopia's federal government has been undertaking military operations in the conflict-ridden regional since November 2020 against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).
The TPLF, which used to rule the region, reportedly attacked a command base of the Ethiopian Defenve Forces.
The clash followed rising tensions between Ethiopia's ruling Prosperity Party and the TPLF, as each side accused the other of trying to destabilise the country.
Mounting differences between the two sides exacerbated in September 2020, when the Tigray regional government decided to go alone with its planned regional elections, which the country's Parliament had previously postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On December 22, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and 30 other partners had appealed for $156 million to meet "the critical humanitarian needs" of Ethiopian refugees fleeing the conflict through the first half of 2021.
The urgent financial appeal is also expected to strengthen the preparedness to receive refugees in other countries in the region in case of further refugee movements, according to the UNHCR.