UN forced to abort humanitarian aid flight destined for Tigray

Aerial view of Ethiopian city’s buildings Aerial view of Ethiopian city’s buildings KML on Pexels

23 October 2021

An estimated 5.2 million people remain in need of assistance across the Ethiopian regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar

As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, a UN humanitarian aid flight destined for Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, was forced to return to Addis Abeba due to airstrikes. It was the fourth time in a single week that Ethiopia had launched air raids on Tigray. The attacks threatened the local population as well as the safety of UN staff working in the field to help civilians in need of assistance. After Friday's incident, the UN suspended all flights to Mekelle.

The UN flight carried 11 passengers. The aid workers on board were headed to a region where approximately seven million people, including five million in Tigray, are in desperate need of help. Conflict dynamics are making the efforts to deliver assistance increasingly difficult, said UN relief chief Martin Griffiths, reiterating that under humanitarian law all precautions must be taken to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure from harm. Mr Griffiths reported that no prior warning of the attacks was received by the UN. The friction between government and aid workers is not new, with similar instances happening in the not too distant past. Despite being among one of the globe’s worst hunger crises, with approximately half-a-million people in Tigray experiencing famine conditions, since June the Ethiopian government has imposed a “de facto humanitarian blockade”, as defined by the UN. 

The conflict between the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's central government troops and those loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) started last November, leading to the death of thousands of people and forcing more than two million to flee their homes. All sides involved in the fighting are alleged to have committed human rights abuses throughout the year, throwing the country into increasingly destructive turmoil.


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Author: Antonella Candiago; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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