The Ethiopian government rejects calls for independent investigations into the deadly conflict in its region of Tigray, saying it “does not need a babysitter”.
Senior government official Redwan Hussein’s statement came amid international calls for more transparency in the month-long fighting between Ethiopian forces and those of the fugitive Tigray regional government that reportedly killed thousands, including civilians .
At least one full-scale massacre has been documented, and more are feared.
Hussein told reporters on Tuesday evening that Ethiopia would only invite others to seek help if it felt “it had not carried out an investigation”.
Assume that the government cannot conduct such investigations “denigrates the government,” he said.
The Ethiopian government has repelled what it calls external “interference” from dialogue efforts to aid delivery, drawing on its history as a rare African country never colonized, a source of deep national pride.
But frustration grows as the northern Tigray region remains largely cut off from the outside world, with desperately needed food and medicine for the population of six million – nearly a million of them are now considered as moved.
The lack of transparency, as most communication and transport links remain cut, has complicated efforts to verify the warring party’s claims.
It also undermines efforts to understand the scale of the atrocities committed since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on November 4 that fighting had started with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has dominated the government and the Ethiopian army for nearly three decades before his arrival. in power and sidelined.
The federal and regional governments consider themselves illegal, as the TPLF opposes the postponement of national elections to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and considers Abiy’s term to have expired.
UN personnel fired at
Abiy’s government has made it clear that it wants to manage the delivery of aid. On Tuesday, he said his forces shot and detained United Nations personnel who allegedly passed through two checkpoints trying to reach areas “they weren’t supposed to go” to.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said four people were in a convoy trying to assess the routes, which “must be done before a larger aid convoy arrives. the UN “.
Staff members have since been released, according to Redwan.
An alarmed UN said it was “engaging at the highest level with the federal government to voice our concerns” more than a week after it and the government signed an agreement to allow humanitarian access. Importantly, the agreement only allows aid in areas under federal government control.
While the Ethiopian government says the fighting has ceased, rebel TPLF leaders have said the conflict is continuing.
Sporadic gunfire persists in Tigray and humanitarian aid must be escorted by the defense forces, Redwan said.
Amid mounting allegations of massacres and attacks on refugee camps inside Tigray, the UN human rights office did not respond to whether it had started to investigate possible war crimes.
Mekelle “ without medical care ”
Meanwhile, the need for help is characterized as critical.
The Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, a city of half a million inhabitants, is “today essentially without medical care,” the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Robert Mardini, told reporters on Tuesday.
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Mardini said the city’s Ayder Referral Hospital was running out of supplies, including fuel for the generator sets.
Ayder, the main hospital in #Mekelle #Tigray is paralyzed. No supplies, no fuel, no running water. Doctors and nurses have suspended intensive care services and are struggling to do routine care like childbirth or dialysis treatment.
Work on resupplying hospitals. https://t.co/cem4uuWQe6
– Robert Mardini (@RMardiniICRC) December 9, 2020
“Doctors and nurses have suspended intensive care services and are struggling to do routine care like childbirth or dialysis,” he said.
A joint ICRC-Ethiopian Red Cross convoy supplying hundreds of wounded is ready to go to Mekelle, pending its approval, he said. It would be the first international convoy to reach the city since the fighting began.
While the risk of insecurity remains in the capital of Tigray, there is no active fighting, Mardini said.
“The inhabitants of Tigray were cut off from services for nearly a month. They had no phone, no internet, no electricity, no fuel. Money is running out. This, of course, adds to the tension, ”he said.