Ethiopia: Delivery of humanitarian aid blocked by air raids

 Empty streets in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia Empty streets in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia Moti Abebe on Unsplash

15 November 2021

United Nations' flight delivering humanitarian aid to Mek’ele, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, forced to turn back due to air raids

On Friday 22 October, a United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Air Service flight due to land in Mek’ele, capital city of the Tigray region and heavily affected by the brutal civil war currently devastating the country, was forced to turn around after hearing reports of incoming air raids. The UN flight, which was carrying eleven relief workers and basic supplies for the affected civilians, had to take the in-transit decision to abandon the relief mission and return to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. For the people of Mek’ele, who are struggling with famine and acute resource shortages, this decision could mean the difference between life and death. After the initial bombing in Mek’ele on Friday, the raids continued for several days, leaving large populations in the region in an electrical and internet blackout, with zero connection to the outside world.

The Tigray region, in the far north of Ethiopia, has been struggling with widespread famine for over a decade. The ongoing conflict between the government and liberation forces within the region has significantly exacerbated the situation. Since September 2020, tensions have been rising between the Ethiopian government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), previously the dominant group in the country’s politics, culminating in the start of fully fledged fighting in November 2020. One year on, the conflict continues to escalate, with heightened militarization, intensified fighting and blockade conditions causing unprecedented human suffering and affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Rough estimates suggest that over 100,000 have been killed, and many more forced to flee to neighbouring Sudan and Eritrea, before the closure of the border by the Ethiopian forces.

The UN, along with numerous global non-governmental aid agencies, have been providing humanitarian aid to the Tigray region for many years, but the recent violent obstruction to their efforts is grave cause for concern, especially as few humanitarian agencies have been able to operate on the ground since the situation worsened. There have been calls for an immediate ceasefire from the UN, which as of yet has gone unheeded by both the TPLF and government forces.


To read more, visit:


Author: Giulia Ferrara; Editor: Xavier Atkins

Read 514 times