UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government has released almost half of the contract aid truck drivers detained, leaving 36 still held, a UN spokesman said on Monday.
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said he believed the drivers were working for Catholic Relief Services. The world body wanted to see the remaining drivers and 10 national staff members of the United Nations released.
"We've heard some greater signs of agreement that we can be able to move aid along, but we want to see that carried out in practice," Haq said. "We want to see that the convoys that are sent into places like Tigray can actually get to their intended destination. The drivers were held since Wednesday."
Haq announced the drivers' release at a regular briefing where he also said the United Nations released 40 million U.S. dollars in emergency funds to Ethiopians.
UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths allocated 25 million U.S. dollars from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). An additional 15 million dollars was allocated from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund for Ethiopian relief.
"These funds will help scale up emergency operations in Ethiopia's conflict-affected northern regions and support early response to the drought in southern Ethiopia," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said the latest allocation brings CERF's support for Ethiopia to 65 million U.S. dollars this year, the spokesman said. Support from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund this year now totals 80 million dollars.
In the regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar, the funds will help aid agencies provide protection and other assistance to people affected by the year-long conflict, he said. In the drought-affected Somali and Oromia regions, agencies will provide drinking water to prevent waterborne diseases and help pastoral communities to maintain their livestock.
"Millions of people in northern Ethiopia are living on a knife-edge as the humanitarian crisis is growing deeper and wider," said Griffiths, who has just returned from Ethiopia. "Across the country, needs are rising."
"This injection of cash will help aid organizations meet some of the most vulnerable people's need for protection and relief," he said.
Humanitarian operations throughout Ethiopia face a funding gap of 1.3 billion U.S. dollars, including 350 million for the response in Tigray, the spokesman said. Enditem