Humanitarian groups seek access to Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region

Young child in Dila, Ethiopia Young child in Dila, Ethiopia Photo by Vlad_Karavaev on iStock

19 January 2021

Aid groups call for access to the Tigray region as the federal government declares military victory over the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The conflict that began in early November between Ethiopian federal government forces and the TPLF, the northern region’s former governing party, has killed thousands of people and led at least 50,000 to cross into neighbouring Sudan to flee the fighting. The fact that the conflict was fought under a communications shutdown means that Tigray’s phone and internet services were severed and that journalists and aid workers were barred from entry.

While phone connectivity has been  restored in several towns and cities, and while stability is returning to Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, humanitarian aid continues to be hindered by bureaucratic hurdles and continuing fighting. Aid agencies’ representatives have criticised the government’s commitment to allow aid agencies access to people in need. The conflict has also resulted in the UN High Commissioner for Refugees losing control of four refugee camps it operated in Tigray. While it regained access to two of them, the other two camps, which have hosted a combined total of more than 35,000 people, remain inaccessible.

In mid-December, in response to Ethiopia’s refusal to allow aid groups to enter Tigray, the European Union (EU) postponed the delivery of almost €88 million in aid intended for Addis Ababa. While Ethiopia has since allowed some aid to reach the region, the UN  Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that up to a third of the food shipments and deliveries have been rejected by the authorities. In early January, the EU confirmed that budget support for Ethiopia had been suspended indefinitely.


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Author: Irina Kovacevic; Editor: Catherine Meunier

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