A senior European Union official said on Friday that an agreement between relief organizations and the Ethiopian government for access to the war-hit Tigray region limits aid to federal-controlled areas only and requires too much bureaucracy.
“The agreement … has some important shortcomings,” EU Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic told reporters. “Humanitarian aid should also go to areas not under government control in line with the fundamental principles of humanitarian aid. There may be malnourished children on the other side also.”
There was no immediate reaction from Ethiopia’s government, which says it is channelling aid already into the northern region, where it has battled rebellious local forces for a month.
Ethiopia meanwhile said it had captured or killed most commanders of a rebellious northern force, while Tigray’s fugitive local leader countered that civilians were protesting against looting by occupying soldiers.
Neither side gave proof for their assertions about the month-long war in the mountainous region bordering Eritrea, where phone communications have been down and access severely restricted both for media and aid workers.
Fighting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s federal army and forces loyal to the region’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), erupted on Nov. 4.
Thousands of people are believed to have died while more than 46,000 refugees have crossed to neighbouring Sudan.
TPLF leaders, who enjoy strong popular support in Tigray, appear to have fled to surrounding mountains and say they have begun a guerrilla-style resistance.
Main Photo: An Ethiopian refugee woman with her child from Tigray region wait to receive aid at the Um Rakuba refugee camp, the same camp that hosted Ethiopian refugees during the famine in the 1980s, some 80 kilometres from the Ethiopian-Sudan border in Sudan. EPA-EFE/ALA KHEIR