EU, Ethiopia discuss aid delivery in restive Tigray
EU commissioner for crisis management hails agreement between Ethiopian rights watchdog, UN to probe rights abuses
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and European Union Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic on Tuesday discussed humanitarian aid delivery and human rights protection in Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray.
The two sides, according to the local broadcaster FANA, discussed ways in which the government and humanitarian agencies tackled challenges in humanitarian aid delivery to the needy in the restive region.
“Commissioner Lenarčič appreciated the improved access in the region that cut bureaucratic hurdles while he pointed out that the intensification of the campaign in the region made some rural areas inaccessible to humanitarian support,” FANA reported.
“Ambassador Lenarčič commended the agreement of EHRC [Ethiopian Human Rights Commission] and the UN to jointly investigate alleged human rights violations in the region and appreciated the announcement of the withdrawal of Eritrean troops, underscoring the need to expedite the process,” it said.
According to FANA, Demeke, who is also the minister of foreign affairs, told Lenarcic that humanitarian agencies would do better if they engaged constructively to support the efforts of the government rather than wasting time in heaping undue criticisms on it.
The Tigray region has come under international spotlight after Nov. 4 last year when the Horn of Africa country launched a massive law enforcement operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
On Nov. 3, the TPLF forces attacked the Northern Command of the Ethiopian defense forces stationed in Tigray regional state, including in the capital Mekele, killing soldiers and looting sizable military hardware.
On Nov. 28, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ended the military operation, but sporadic fighting continued in the state. Hundreds of thousands of people got displaced while more than 60,000 fled fighting to neighboring Sudan.
Present at the meeting, Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner for the National Disaster Risk Management Commission of Ethiopia (NDRMC), said many of the humanitarian partners and aid agencies are still concentrated in Mekelle and have covered only 7% of the non-food items and 30% of food items out of the total aid delivered to 4.5 million people in the region so far.
He said six districts that were not reachable for humanitarian support have now become accessible with a military escort for the past 15 days, expanding access to the entire region.
Regarding IDPs, he said there are 169,000 of them under 12 centers and the government is ready to provide them voluntary, dignified, and safe return to their homes or place them under the protection of host communities and temporary shelters for the time being.