Ethiopia, four aid workers killed in Tigray fighting

Ethiopian children who fled Tigray wait for food to be distributed in Gadaref refugee camp, eastern Sudan  Ethiopian children who fled Tigray wait for food to be distributed in Gadaref refugee camp, eastern Sudan Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP Photo

11 December 2020

Aid agencies operating in Tigray announce the loss of four staff members over the last month

Two international aid agencies, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have reported the killing, over the last month, of four of their staff members who were working in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.

The aid agencies were highly active in the region already before the conflict started, as its inhabitants were suffering from food insecurity. Indeed, the locust invasion and the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to the further weakening of the region’s food supply chains.

Disorders in Tigray started on November 4, when the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abih Ahmed, ordered the government troops to enter the region, in response to alleged attacks by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces. Moreover, the government imposed a communications blackout and the blocking of air and road access to Tigray, which hampers aid deliveries to the area. Abih Ahmed denies these facts and affirms instead that: "Suggestions that humanitarian assistance is impeded due to active military combat... within the Tigray region [are] untrue”.

On November 28, the federal troops captured Mekelle, Tigray’s capital and the Prime Minister declared the victory and the end of the conflict. Nonetheless, the United Nations and aid agencies, as well as the TPLF leaders themselves, affirm that fighting continues. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stated that the situation is “spiraling out of control with appalling impact on civilians” and calls for an urgent outside monitoring on the situation. In response to this, the Ethiopian government denies that any civilian was ever involved in the combatting and rejects any type of independent investigation to be done. Therefore, it appears decidedly difficult to collect any reliable information on the conflict victims for the moment.


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Author: Laura De Pascale

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