US Accuses Ethiopia’s Government of Blocking Aid to Tigray

Ethiopia

NAIROBI (Somaliguardian) – USAID Adminstrator Samantha Power on Friday said the flow of humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia’s war-wrecked Tigray region “remains woefully insufficient” as the Ethiopian government continues “obstructing humanitarian aid and personnel”, including land convoy and air access, despite calls for an immediate ceasefire in the region.

In Tigray, where hundreds of thousands are facing famine, food warehouses are virtually empty. This week, for the first time in nine months of conflict, aid workers will run out of food to distribute to the millions of people who are going hungry. USAID and its partners as well as other humanitarian organizations have depleted their stores of food items warehoused in Tigray,” USAID Adminstrator Samantha Power said in a statement on Friday.


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Despite the small trickle of convoys into Tigray and an average of two UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights per week to Mekele during the first half of August, the flow of humanitarian assistance remains woefully insufficient. This shortage is not because food is unavailable, but because the Ethiopian Government is obstructing humanitarian aid and personnel, including land convoys and air access.”

The US aid chief called on the Ethiopian government to immediately allow humanitarian assistance to swiftly move into Tigray in order to prevent a “catastrophic stop to food assistance that millions need to survive”.

The allegations have come as hundreds of thousands of Tigrayans are living in famine conditions, with more than five million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Samantha Power said Tigray forces’ offensive into neigboring regions of Afar and Amhara “will only prolong this conflict and the suffering of the Ethiopian people” and urged the Tigrayan armed group to halt its offensive and “withdraw its forces immediately from Amhara and Afar regions”.

Aid workers are harassed, and we have seen an increase in troubling and harmful rhetoric coming from the Ethiopian Government against humanitarians,” she added.

She urged all of Ethiopia’s warring sides to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people “whose survival depends on it, and they must end hostilities and commit to a negotiated ceasefire”.

The US aid chief’s statement comes after the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire in Africa’s second most populous nation, where he said millions of people were in dire need of assistance and women faced “unspeakable violence”. Read More

Ethiopia’s conflict looks set to intensify as forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) continue to press further into Amhara and Afar regions, in what their leadership said was part of efforts to remove a blockade on the war-hit region and open humanitarian corridors.

Tigray forces struck a military alliance with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) last week “based on mutual understanding that Abiy’s dictatorship must be removed” and in response to the move, the Ethiopian government called on all able-bodied Ethiopians to take up arms and join its push to quell allied groups’ possible advance to the capital, Addis Ababa. Read More

Amid escalating conflict at home, Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited Turkey’s capital, Ankara on Wednesday where he and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan oversaw the signing of military agreements, including a military financial cooperation deal, whose details have not been immediately known. Read More

Ethiopian conflict has not just spread between the regions of the Horn of Africa country, but has spilled into neighboring Djibouti last month when two mobs of Somali and Afar ethnic groups clashed in the neighborhood of Balbala in a violence that killed more than 10 people and resulted in the destruction of homes and businesses in the capital of the tiny nation. Read More


Full Statement

In Tigray, where hundreds of thousands are facing famine, food warehouses are virtually empty. This week, for the first time in nine months of conflict, aid workers will run out of food to distribute to the millions of people who are going hungry. USAID and its partners as well as other humanitarian organizations have depleted their stores of food items warehoused in Tigray.

Despite the small trickle of convoys into Tigray and an average of two UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flights per week to Mekele during the first half of August, the flow of humanitarian assistance remains woefully insufficient. This shortage is not because food is unavailable, but because the Ethiopian Government is obstructing humanitarian aid and personnel, including land convoys and air access. The U.S. calls on the Ethiopian Government to immediately allow humanitarian assistance to swiftly move into Tigray in order to prevent a catastrophic stop to food assistance that millions need to survive.

Humanitarian organizations have food loaded onto trucks, and they are waiting in Semera, Afar, and other places in Ethiopia, but for the last month and a half only a small trickle of aid convoys has been allowed into Tigray. To meet the vast humanitarian needs in Tigray, 100 trucks carrying tons of food and life-saving supplies need to arrive each day, which should have meant a total of 5,000 trucks since July 1. However, as of a few days ago, only around 320 had arrived—less than 7 percent of what is required. While the Government of Ethiopia has been quick to hail the limited aid as a positive step, it is far too little and far too late. People in Tigray are starving with up to 900,000 in famine conditions and more than five million in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian workers continue to face entirely too many hurdles to make aid convoys happen. They have encountered unacceptable delays at multiple checkpoints, some of which take hours to clear, as well as repeated intensive searches. Aid workers are harassed, and we have seen an increase in troubling and harmful rhetoric coming from the Ethiopian Government against humanitarians. Instead, we need to see action from the Government of Ethiopia that will enable humanitarians to do their jobs and save lives. Fuel deliveries, electricity, telecommunications, and banking services must all be immediately restored and maintained, and humanitarians and relief supplies need to be allowed to move quickly, regularly, and unimpeded into Tigray. In addition, restrictions on aid organizations bringing cash and telecommunications equipment into Tigray need to be lifted in order to facilitate the delivery of lifesaving assistance.

The TPLF’s offensive into other regions will only prolong this conflict and the suffering of the Ethiopian people. The United States urges the TPLF to halt its offensive and withdraw its forces immediately from the Amhara and Afar regions, the Amhara regional government to withdraw its forces from western Tigray, and the Eritrean government to withdraw its forces immediately and permanently from Ethiopia.

The United States remains committed to the welfare of all Ethiopians. All parties must allow humanitarian aid to reach the people whose survival depends on it, and they must end hostilities and commit to a negotiated ceasefire.

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