Ethiopia. Airstrikes in Tigray force UN flight to abandon landing and turn back, say aid workers | World news
A United Nations humanitarian flight was forced to abandon its landing in the capital of the Tigray region due to airstrikes by the Ethiopian army, aid workers say.
Ethiopian authorities appear to be stepping up intimidation tactics against aid workers amid the escalating year-long Tigray War.
A deadly conflict erupted between Tigrayans and Ethiopian government forces last November, and thousands of people have since been killed and more than two million citizens were forced to flee the area.
An Ethiopian government spokesperson said authorities knew the UN flight was in the area, but said the UN and military flights had a “different time and direction” .
How close the Ethiopian fighter jets have come to the UN plane has yet to be revealed.
The airstrikes targeted a former military training center in the capital of Tigray, Mekelle, which is now used as a “combat network hub” by rival Tigray forces, the government spokesman told the ‘Associated Press.
The UN flight was to land in Mekelle, the main base of humanitarian operations in Tigray.
In recent months, the Ethiopian government has accused certain humanitarian groups of supporting Tigray forces.
The government expelled seven UN officials last month after accusing them of falsely inflating the scale of the Tigray crisis, without any evidence.
Tensions between the government and aid groups coincide with the world’s worst food crisis in a decade, with nearly half a million people reportedly facing famine conditions in Tigray.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths revealed last month that only 10% of necessary humanitarian supplies reached Tigray.
He said, “So people eat roots, flowers and plants instead of a normal regular meal.
“Lack of food means people will start to die.”
Aid workers struggled to bring supplies when boarding flights to Tigray after being subjected to searches, even their own items such as multivitamins, can openers and banned drugs.
Tigray forces have denied that the sites targeted this week were used in connection with the fighting.
At least three children have been killed and more than a dozen injured, health workers and residents said.
The conflict between the Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces began almost a year ago after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced a military offensive overthrow the regional ruling party of Tigray, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF).
He said it was a necessary response to TPLF attacks on military camps and that soon after reports of starving people began to emerge after witnesses described how Ethiopian and allied forces destroyed or looted food sources.
The population of Tigray is now subject to a government blockade, as the fighting has spread to neighboring areas of Amhara and Afar.
Meanwhile, the UN has said more than two million people are displaced.
The Ethiopian government on Thursday claimed responsibility for a successful strike against another military base used by Tigray forces near Mekelle, however, a spokesman for Tigray forces said air defenses were preventing the plane from hitting targets in the area. city.
And on Wednesday, an airstrike hit an industrial complex the government said was being used by Tigray forces to repair weapons. Tigray forces later denied that the site was of military importance and said it was used to produce cars and tractors.
On Monday, two more airstrikes targeted the city.