Ethiopia: Aid agencies suspend operations in Tigray amid fuel shortage
ADDIS ABABA - Several aid agencies working in the war-torn Tigray region have either suspended or limited their activities, the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] has confirmed, amid concerns about a shortage of food in the region.
Last month, the Tigray Defense Forces [TDF], a rebel group that is at loggerheads with the Ethiopia National Defense Forces [ENDF], accused Afar regional troops of blocking humanitarian trucks carrying food to the region, despite clearance from Addis Ababa.
Already, the TDF moved swiftly to the region and have since been accused of "retaliation". The Afar regional troops are closely working with the administration in Addis Ababa in what they termed as "vengeance against terror group".
In a statement, OCHA now says the Tigray region has run out of fuel stock, thus leading to the suspension of critical humanitarian activities in Tigray. Thousands of people are reportedly starving despite assurances from Addis Ababa that the issue "is being handled".
"Across northern Ethiopia, it is expected that constant humanitarian food assistance will be required at least throughout 2022," read the statement by OCHA, which is appealing for assistance in the region.
The recent fighting in the Afar region caused the displacement of thousands of people and access remains difficult.
Over 811,000 people assisted with food under the recent distribution cycle and over 420,000 people under the previous distribution cycle between 24 -30 January in Amhara.
The delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray via Semera-Abala-Mekelle road remains suspended since 15 December due to ongoing clashes and insecurity. The Afar regional troops have been imposing blockades according to aid agencies.
"More than 2,500 children, including over 1,000 girls, received education support through informal learning programs in Afar during the reporting week," OCHA added while calling for a ceasefire between the two conflicting parties.
Although there have been efforts to reconcile the two sides, both of them look non-committal, often accusing each other of blackmail. The TDF blamed Ethiopian Air Force for using drone strikes to target innocent civilians in Western Tigray.
Reports indicate that the drones being used were imported from Turkey, leading to scrutiny from the United Nations Security Council [UNSC]. The US also wants answers as to why Turkey is selling drones to Ethiopia within proper regulations.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday termed the Tigray conflict " an internal problem" in his address during the 35th Ordinary Session of AU in Addis Ababa. However, Getachew Reda, the spokesperson of TDF, dismissed his sentiments, adding that "he's lying to the entire world".
The crisis started in November 2020 and was triggered by TDF decision to attack the Northern Command. Since then, countries like Eritrea and Somalia have been linked to the war, despite their persistent denial despite credible evidence linking them to the conflict.