As with all UN bodies, the work of the OCHA-Ethiopia is governed by the universal principles of neutrality, impartiality, access to those in need, accountability, respect for human rights and multilateralism. During the civil war, the office actively promoted the use of relief corridors (land and air) through contested areas and was instrumental in negotiating the southern and northern line operations that took emergency supplies into rebel held areas of Welo, Tigrai and Eritrea in the latter months of the war. Today, the office promotes transparency and accountability in the work of the United Nations in Ethiopia by facilitating the free exchange of information and promoting the critical examination of relief and development practices in the field.

The need for a rapid and flexible response to emergencies has been an imperative for the United Nations ever since the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. Much of the responsibility for ensuring that an appropriate level of readiness exists within the system has been decentralized and invested in the Resident Coordinator system. Today, the work of the office is geared to supporting the Resident Coordinator in meeting these responsibilities, emphasizing the management and dissemination of early warning information, assessment of relief needs, support for inter-agency collaboration, donor relations and resource mobilization.

The work of OCHA- Ethiopia can be split into two main categories: field monitoring and information activities. Field Monitors assess emergency relief needs (in co-operation with donors and the DPPC), facilitating and coordinating the humanitarian response of the UN system in Ethiopia and an Information Team provides a public information service on behalf of the both the UN and wider aid community.

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