The Ethiopian government announced Friday that it will allow “unrestricted” humanitarian access to the Tigray region, the scene of a military offensive that began in November and has left 2.3 million people in need of immediate assistance.
Ethiopian authorities have limited access to Tigray in recent months, focusing instead on fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which was responsible for an attack in early November on a military base in the regional capital, Mekelle.
Abiy Ahmed’s government had already opened the door to aid and this Friday, in a statement from the Prime Minister’s office, stressed that “humanitarian agencies have been guaranteed unrestricted access to the region”. However, he also pointed out that aid is only one of several “complex challenges” that remain.
Thus, Abiy’s office has insisted on the need to combat the TPLF, accused of “crimes against constitutional order”, and to bring all criminals to justice. To advance the investigations, the government has expressed its readiness to accept “international technical assistance.”
“The Government of Ethiopia once again reiterates its commitment to achieving a stable and peaceful region where the needs of citizens are met and impunity does not prevail for those responsible for crimes against humanity and against the state,” it added.
MESSAGE FROM THE UN
Shortly before this statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, had again called from Geneva for “full and unimpeded” access for humanitarian aid and personnel in Tigray. In this sense, she considers this entry “crucial”.
The former Chilean president has also expressed her concern about the “grave” abuses allegedly committed by “all parties” during the conflict, with reports of killings, extrajudicial executions and other attacks against civilians. The UN Human Rights office believes a “credible” investigation is needed and has offered to help.
On the other hand, Bachelet criticized the refoulement of Eritreans and estimated that “at least 15,000” refugees have disappeared after the destruction of their camps in recent months. Just this Friday Amnesty International denounced the massacre of more than 200 civilians at the hands of Eritrean forces in Tigray.