News: UN addresses humanitarian access in Tigray, says 75% improvement compared to 30% in May; NDRMC says TPLF impeding humanitarian supplies

Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba, July 23/2021 – In the daily press briefing on July 21/202,  Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, addressed humanitarian access in Tigray. In the briefing, the deputy spokesperson said that despite some improvements in access within Tigray since the end of June, movement in and out of the region remained restricted which affected aid workers in mobilizing supplies.

“75% of the people who needed assistance, which is 4 million out of 5.2 million people in need are now in zones where humanitarian operations can take place compared to 30% in May,” the Spokesperson said.

He explained that with road access being blocked between Afar and Tigray via Semera city for security reasons, humanitarian supplies are rapidly being depleted inside Tigray. This blockade, according to the Spokesperson, prevents humanitarian personnel, food stocks, fuel and other humanitarian services from entering the region. 

Farhan Haq said, “Last week 54 truck humanitarian convoys carrying food, fuel, medical supplies and other vital items arrived in Mekele.” The Spokesman, however, remarked on the inadequacy of the supplies to sustain humanitarian assistance. 

He pointed out that following approval from the government of Ethiopia,  the UN Humanitarian Air Service’s test flight was conducted on Saturday, July 17, to Tigray which led to a schedule to resume  regular flight as of July 21.

The Spokesperson called for restoration of electricity, communications, commercial flights and banking systems to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

Addis Standard attempted to get hold of Ethiopian National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) for further comments in relation to the UN Secretary-General Spokesperson statement for further explanations. The Commission’s public relations head referred Addis Standard to remarks given by Commissioner Mitiku Kassa to a local news outlet.

Mitiku Kassa, NDRMC Commissioner, told Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) on July 19, 2021 that TPLF, who has been designated as a “Terrorist Group” by the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR), blocked the road between Afar region and Tigray which impeded 189 heavy trucks that carried food and non-food items for humanitarian aids.

According to the Commissioner, TPLF attacked those trucks and caused the current  hindrance of humanitarian access in Tigray. The Commissioner further argued that the attack happened at Yalo Woreda, Fenti Resu Zone, in Afar Region.

The Commissioner  reminded that the unilateral ceasefire was declared by the government for the sake of facilitating humanitarian access in Tigray. Mitiku accused TPLF of impeding humanitarian supplies into the region. Mitiku also insisted that the government was striving to facilitate the aid coming from the international communities to reach Tigray but TPLF’s attacks created impediments for humanitarian access. AS

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