Authorities in Ethiopia say that efforts to deliver humanitarian support to people affected by the conflict in Tigray region are hampered by the attacks on aid convoys by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces fighting in the area.
TPLF was among the many armed groups that fought the Federal Military Rule in the 1970s and 1980s and after the downfall of the Military regime, they (TPLF) in coalition with other ethnic based parties formed EPRDF and ruled the Ethiopia for 27 years.
However, after waves of popular protests that swept across the country and internal struggles within the ruling party for almost two years, Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018.
The group did not come to terms with the fact that they had peacefully lost power and control over the country and instead opted for implementing violence and conflicts witnessed for more than 2 years now.
An attack on a military facility on Wednesday, 4th of November 2020 ignited months of fighting between government forces and TPLF until recently on June 29 this year when government declared a unilateral ceasefire and ordered the national army to leave the whole of Tigray inorder to enable the residents access humanitarian support and as well allow farmers to use the rainy season to plough their land safely without any sporadic clashes with TPLF.
But in a statement from the office of the Prime Minister, Ethiopia says its efforts and those of humanitarian organizations to extend aid are being affected by the attacks from TPLF fighters on their convoys.
“We condemn the attack by TPLF on the aid convoys on 18 July 2021 along the Semera-Abala road. The obstruction of humanitarian assistance to those in need within the region by the terrorist group TPLF for political gains is an act that should be condemned by the international community,” reads the statement in parts.
“TPLF’s continued provocations directed at the Ethiopian National Defence Force, through the use of child soldiers and armed civilians attempting to draw our forces into altercation, need also to be strongly condemned by the international community,” the statement further reads.
Government says they have been working tirelessly in collaboration with development partners to ensure continued supplies of food and medicine to those that are in desperate need of it.
“We will continue to work with our humanitarian partners to prevent breaks in humanitarian operations and for assistance to reach all the affected communities,” says Ethiopia in a statement from the office of the Prime Minister.
Prior to the announcement of ceasefire in Tigray in June, the country’s National Emergency Coordination Committee, had provided humanitarian assistance for the past months and also placed in storage more than 400,000 quintals of wheat and 2.5 million litres of cooking oil for distribution to those in need.
Also, close to 14 million litres of fuel have been left in fuel depots within the region for utilisation by residents prior to the withdrawal of government forces.
Government says they remain steadfast in their commitment to support safe delivery of critical supplies to the people of Tigray region without endangering national security.
“Full permission for humanitarian flights to fly to Tigray region have been facilitated on condition that they depart from Addis Ababa and land in Addis Ababa on the return flight”
The decision, according to government, is aimed at keeping with the constitutional duty of Ethiopian authorities to preserve national security. Meanwhile, two flights flights by the World Food Program (WFP) have already been made in the past week.
On Thursday, dozens of thousands of Ethiopians gathered in Addis Ababa’s Meskel square to show support for the country’s military in its fight against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) fighting in the Tigray region.
Many with placards, the demonstrators heaped praise on Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed as well as the national army. They matched to the square as they sung songs of liberation and calling for the international community including media to desist from misreporting and taking sides in the Tigray region conflict.