The UN and Ethiopia have agreed to allow aid into the country’s conflict-torn Tigray region, UN officials say.
UN spokesman Saviano Abreu says an assessment mission will begin later on Wednesday. There has been no word so far from the Ethiopian government.
Food and medicines are said to be running out for millions of people.
Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed in the month-long fighting between the federal army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The Ethiopian government said the regional capital Mekelle was seized over the weekend.
But TPLF soldiers said they were still fighting near the city.
Thousands of people have been displaced.
In a separate development, the Ethiopian authorities said one of the most senior TPLF figures had surrendered. Keriya Ibrahim is the former speaker of the regional parliament.
The TPLF has not publicly commented on the issue.
The UN will have “unimpeded” access to deliver aid to the government-held areas of Tigray, news agencies report.
UN humanitarian spokesman Saviano Abreu is quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the first mission to carry out a needs assessment is starting on Wednesday after the agreement was signed this week.
“We are of course working to make sure assistance will be provided in the whole region and for every single person who needs it,” Mr Abreu said.
Separately, a UN source told Reuters the organisation had established a logistics group with the government to ensure access.
However, the government in Addis Ababa is yet to confirm the deal has been reached.
Among those in need of urgent aid in Tigray are thousands of refugees from neighbouring Eritrea. They fled political persecution and compulsory military service.
Meanwhile, communications have been fully restored in Alamata – a town on the south-eastern tip of Tigray. But towns in the western parts of the region saw only partial restoration of the services.
Communications blackouts since the start of the fighting have made it difficult to verify claims and counterclaims by the rival sides.