By: The Kabul Times
The United Nations’ new humanitarian chief has denounced “dangerous” accusations by Ethiopian government officials that aid workers were biased in favour of rebels in Tigray, where a brutal conflict between federal troops and forces loyal to the northern region’s rulers erupted nine months ago.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a six-day visit to Ethiopia, Martin Griffiths also called for access to allow desperately needed aid into the mountainous region where the UN says hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from famine.
“Blanket accusations of humanitarian aid workers need to stop,” he said.
“They are unfair, they are unconstructive, they need to be backed up by evidence if there is any and, frankly, it’s dangerous.”
At least a dozen aid workers have been killed since the government sent troops into Tigray in November to remove the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which for decades dominated national politics until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.
They include three staff with Doctors Without Borders who were killed in June, prompting the international medical charity, known by its French acronym MSF, to suspend operations in parts of the region.
Last month, senior government official Redwan Hussein accused some aid groups of “arming the other side”, meaning the TPLF but gave no details.
Abiy, the winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, said the army’s military operations in Tigray – backed by forces from neighbouring Eritrea, whose government has been a longtime foe of the TPLF and fighters from Ethiopia’s Amhara region – were in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps and promised victory would be swift. The TPLF said federal forces and its allies launched a “coordinated attack” against it.