(Belga) Humanitarian organizations have suspended their activities in the northwest of Ethiopia’s warring Tigray region after a deadly airstrike on a displaced persons camp, the UN said on Sunday.
“Humanitarian partners have suspended activities in the region due to continued threats of drone strikes,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) told AFP. According to Ocha’s preliminary information, the attack, carried out around midnight on Friday in the town of Dedebit, “claimed dozens of civilian casualties, including deaths”. The Tigrayan rebels on Saturday accused the government of carrying out a drone attack that they said killed 56 people, while an official at the main hospital in the region said 55 dead and 126 injured. But it was impossible to verify these claims independently, access to Tigray being very restricted and communications cut off in this region. Ethiopian government officials did not respond to AFP’s pleas for the attack. According to Ocha, the lack of essential supplies, in particular medical equipment and fuel, “seriously disrupts the response to the injured and has led to the almost total collapse of the health system in Tigray”. “The intensification of airstrikes is alarming, and we once again remind all parties to the conflict that they must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law,” the UN agency added. The attack came as the Ethiopian government announced amnesties for several senior Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) officials and other opposition leaders, calling for “national reconciliation” . The TPLF has taken up arms since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the federal army to Tigray in November 2020 to remove the regional authorities – from the TPLF – who challenged his authority and whom he accused of having attacked bases military. A TPLF counter-offensive enabled the rebels to reconquer most of the region at the end of June 2021 and to advance in those neighboring Amhara and Afar. They said in November that they had arrived 200 km from Addis Ababa. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives. Tigray, subject according to the UN to a “de facto blockade” of humanitarian aid. (Belga)