UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations announced Thursday it has released $65 million for humanitarian aid in Ethiopia, including $40 million for the Tigray region where a military operation launched in November has escalated into a war in which widespread atrocities are reported and thousands have been killed.
The U.N. humanitarian office said the remaining $25 million will fund aid operations in the rest of Ethiopia, including in response to drought in the Somali and Oromia regions. It said funds will be used to treat children with severe acute malnutrition, rehabilitate water systems and supply water to drought-affected communities and to pre-position humanitarian supplies.
"Ethiopian lives and livelihoods are being destroyed by drought, and children are suffering from malnutrition," U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement. "And six months into the conflict in Tigray, civilians continue to bear the brunt."
"Women and girls are being targeted with horrific sexual violence, and millions are struggling to access essential services and food, especially in some rural areas that are completely cut off. We need to scale up the humanitarian response now," Lowcock said.
The humanitarian office known as OCHA said the $40 million for Tigray will fund emergency shelter, clean water, health care, prevention efforts and response to sexual and gender-based violence, and emergency telecommunications to support the humanitarian response.
OCHA said access to those in need in Tigray "remains a challenge" and aid officials are trying to reach inaccessible areas in the southeast.
Last week, OCHA said, a U.N. humanitarian convoy managed to reach Samre town, where it delivered emergency food and nutrition supplies and organized a mobile health clinic in the Samre hospital.
OCHA urged additional funding for humanitarian aid in Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia as well as access to all those in need.