Ethiopia – First humanitarian aid convoy enters Tigray in three months

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Thirteen humanitarian aid trucks arrived on Friday in Meghalaya, the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigre region, which has been plagued by fighting since November 2020.

Already last September the people of Tigre relied on humanitarian assistance.  Here at Depark.

Already last September the people of Tigre relied on humanitarian assistance. Here at Depark.

AFP

One week after the declaration of a “humanitarian ceasefire”, 13 food aid trucks, the first convoy of roads to reach Tigre in three months, arrived on Friday in Makele, the capital of the Ethiopian region, which has been the scene of conflict since November 2020. Threatened by starvation. “Other trucks and fuels will follow,” the World Food Program (WFP) said on Saturday morning, as the convoy carried “more than 500 tons of food and nutritious food.”

This is the first humanitarian convoy to reach the Tigray region since the end of December, the UN said.

The convoy of 20 trucks left Semera, the capital of neighboring Afar region, with a fuel tanker before being stopped by Afar regional forces on Thursday, an official told AFP humanitarian sources. He was able to hit the road again on Friday.

Despite the declaration of a “humanitarian ceasefire” on March 24, Addis Ababa and rebels from the Tigre People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has been fighting each other for several days, have been accused of blocking aid rallies. On Thursday, the Ethiopian government announced that 21 WFP trucks had “begun to carry humanitarian aid to the Tigre area.”

“Serious shortage”

Due to fighting and insecurity in Afar, which has been occupied by the TPLF, no aid has been sent to Dikre by road since mid-December. Only medical and nutritional items arrived on the plane, in much smaller quantities than road convoys allow. “This is a big step in the right direction. However, the important thing is not the number of trucks allowed (to reach Digre), but whether there is a system to guarantee unrestricted humanitarian access to those in need,” the carrier replied.

The WFP estimated in January that about 4.6 million people, or 83% of the six million people living in Degrade, were “food insecure” while two million were suffering from “severe food shortages”. In addition, the UN says humanitarian operations in Tigris, where more than 400,000 people have been displaced by the conflict due to a lack of fuel, food and money, have been nearly halted since mid-February. And basic services (telecommunications, internet, electricity, banking, etc.) have been suspended there for months.

Since the declaration of the ceasefire, it has been eight days since the convoy, which had been stationed for weeks in Semara, was to begin its march. However, the WFP stated for a week that it would “be ready” to send its trucks to Tigray “as soon as secure and unrestricted access is guaranteed by all parties”. On Thursday, a humanitarian source told the AFP that the WFP had received accreditation from the federal government and was waiting for a “green light” from Afar regional authorities, as well as pledges to allow “militants and people (‘Afar)) to pass the convoy.” Many aid chains have been looted by Afar residents in the past. In recent days, “firmly, there is no recognition from the Afar authorities”, they are demanding that the TPLF, like the central government, withdraw from the area, according to this source.

Many diplomatic pressures

The United States welcomed the arrival of aid, calling on all veterans to “ensure an important step” and “ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel.” “We urge all parties to take drastic new steps to achieve peace in northern Ethiopia and to develop this positive humanitarian development,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blingen said in a statement.

Washington stepped up diplomatic pressure to allow aid, and on Wednesday, Tracy Jacobson, the US chief of staff in Ethiopia, met with Afol leader Avol Arba in Semara. Tigray Boss. Clashes erupted when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed sent federal troops to oust TPLF officials who had ruled Ethiopia for nearly 30 years.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2019, Abi Ahmed, accused the TPLF, which had been challenging his authority for months, of attacking federal military bases in Tigray. One month after taking Mekele, the TPLF’s counter-offensive led to the withdrawal of the Ethiopian army from Tigray in 2021, and the conflict, marked by numerous abuses on both sides, spread to neighboring Afar and ‘Amhara.

(AFP)

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