WHO chief: Ethiopian and Eritrean troops blocking humanitarian aid to Tigray

Tedros delivers a speech at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 18 October 2021. [Photo: AP]

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - The World Health Organization [WHO] Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom says a major humanitarian crisis is knocking in the Tigray region after troops loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed imposed a blockade to the region.

In a tweet, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, who hails from Ethiopia, said major entry routes to Tigray have been sealed off by Ethiopia National Defense Forces [ENDF] and their counterparts from Eritrea for the last couple of months.

According to him, the Tigray region is now completely sealed from the rest of the world, noting that the crisis could lead to the death of thousands of people. He condemned Addis Ababa for using starvation as a tool for war.

"Tigray is on the edge of a major humanitarian disaster unless the siege is ended. The region has been sealed off by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces for more than a year," he said. "No food, no medicine, no fuel, no cash, no media, no telecom. Starvation must never be used as a weapon of war."

The Ethiopian troops have been at war f
with Tigray Defense Forces [TDF] since November 2020 and efforts to mitigate the crisis have not borne fruits. The ENDF is being assisted by Eritrea troops and those from the Amhara and Afar regions of Ethiopia.

Although Abiy Ahmed pledged to convene a reconciliation meeting between Addis Ababa and Mekelle, the efforts are yet to succeed. Thousands of people have been killed since the conflict started while millions have been displaced.

The TDF accused the government of Ethiopia of using starvation as a war tool but authorities in Addis Ababa have frequently denied the claims. TDF had seized a number of towns within the Amhara and Afar regions but it has since retreated to protect its territory.

Getachew Reda, the TDF spokesperson, said Abiy Ahmed and Tigray leader Debretsion are yet to meet since the conflict started. Media reports had indicated that the two rivals may have met over the ongoing hostility in the country.

"Just for the record: there was no phone conversation between Debretsion and Abiy Ahmed in the last 18 months. No matter who these multiple sources Tom Gardner quotes are, they must have plucked their information out of thin air. Similar games are quite common in Addis," he noted.

The US had warned Eritrea from dispatching troops to Tigray and even went ahead to slap a number of officials with sanctions. Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 but his tenure has been surrounded by controversy with thousands dying in his watch.


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