UN aid to Ethiopia delayed amid continuing Tigray crisis, fear of looming humanitarian catastrophe
With almost a month into the conflict involving the northern part of Tigray region controlled by the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and the Addis Ababa based government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the fighting is continuing in the region. The United Nations has said that due to continuing conflicts in many parts of Tigray region of Ethiopia, the humanitarian aid is facing roadblocks to reach the affected and those in need.
The UN has estimated that a million of people in the country are facing shortage of food and medicines. Though Ethiopian government had assured of unhindered access to humanitarian aid and workers in the conflict region under government control, UN says that there was still no access to the region as on Friday.
Ethiopian military had entered Tigray capital city of Mekelle last weekend and had said that TPLF rebels are down under control and many key towns have been seized, citing the long going conflict on verge of ending. Rejecting the claims by government, TPLF said that the fighting is continuing.
The conflict has led to hundreds and thousands of people from Tigray region dead. Hundreds have been displaced and forced to fled their homes to escape the bloody war. A large number of people have also fled to neighbouring Sudan. This has also raised concerns among UN experts fearing a looming humanitarian crisis in Sudan as well which is already experiencing a high influx of refugees from other African nations.
TPLF leaders have said that “fighting is still going on in places near the city”. However, Zadig Abraha, Ethiopian minister in charge of democratization has rejected the claims saying “there is no war”.
TPLF forces have retreated from Mekelle to spare the city of any more damages through massive bombardments by the government, but fighting is still continuing in outskirts of the city. Getachew Reda, a TPLF Executive Committee member said that situation in Mekelle is “very tense”. He said, “People have no appetite whatsoever to countenance the invading forces.”
Mr. Reda added, “My forces are fighting for the self-determination rights of their people. They are fighting gallantly and heroically and there is no reason why they should surrender. While we would not submit to any arm-twisting, we remain beholden to the need for peace.”
On Wednesday, the UN said that it had reached an agreement with government to deliver aids to the Tigray region. But till Friday security assessments were still being conducted leading to a timeline of next week to make the aid available to people.
Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian co-ordination office said, “We have been granted this access, this agreement with the federal government. But we also have to have the same kind of agreement with all parties to the conflict to make sure we actually have unconditional free access to Tigray.”