Ethiopia’s government on Friday denied that the war in its northern Tigray region was preventing aid reaching civilians, as two foreign aid agencies confirmed some staff had been killed there and urged all sides to do more to protect non-combatants.
The month-long conflict between Ethiopian federal forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is thought to have killed thousands and has sent more than 950 000 people fleeing, according to the United Nations, about 50 000 of them to Sudan.
Since the army captured Tigray’s regional capital Mekelle nearly two weeks ago and declared victory, the Ethiopian government has portrayed life in Tigray as returning to normal. But TPLF leaders say they are continuing to fight from mountains around the city.
“Suggestions that humanitarian assistance is impeded due to active military combat … within the Tigray region is untrue and undermines … work to stablise the region,” the statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) put out statements on Friday regretting the killings of their staff.
The IRC said one staff member was killed in a refugee camp in Shire, adding that because communications in the area were so difficult, they had not yet gathered or confirmed the details surrounding the death.
The DRC said three of its staff were killed in Tigray last month, giving no further details. They said that a lack of communications and insecurity meant they still hadn’t managed to reach their families with the news.