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Ethiopia detains some 70 drivers who deliver aid to Tigray, United Nations says

NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopian authorities have arrested and detained some 70 aid-delivering truck drivers contracted to the United Nations and different teams previously week, the United Nations stated Wednesday, starting when the federal government declared a state of emergency amid the nation’s escalating battle and rising famine.

It’s the authorities’s newest slap on the world physique after the current expulsion of seven U.N. staffers and the detention of not less than 16 native workers as tensions proceed over what the U.N. has referred to as a “de facto humanitarian blockade” on Ethiopia’s Tigray area.

Wednesday’s assertion stated the U.N. is looking for the explanations for the drivers’ arrests that occurred beginning Nov. 3 within the metropolis of Semera, the gateway for assist convoys struggling to succeed in Tigray. Authorities spokesman Legesse Tulu didn’t reply to questions.

On Tuesday, the U.N. stated the 16 native workers had been detained in current days in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. All are ethnic Tigrayans, who witnesses say have been swept up by the 1000’s for the reason that state of emergency was declared in response to studies that Tigray forces who’ve been preventing Ethiopian forces had been approaching the capital.

Authorities spokesman Legesse instructed The Related Press the 16 U.N. staffers had been detained due to “participation in terror” unrelated to their work, with out particulars. The federal government says it’s detaining folks suspected of supporting the Tigray forces.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Wednesday stated not less than 9 of the staffers had been at present held, and the U.N. had not obtained “any official rationalization” for the detentions.

The brand new U.N. assertion stated the handfuls of drivers detained are of “completely different ethnicities,” however they embody Tigrayans.

The arrests are an extra problem to efforts to ship humanitarian assist to thousands and thousands of individuals in Tigray, which has not obtained badly wanted assist provides together with meals, medicines and gasoline for the reason that Ethiopian navy started hitting the Tigray capital with airstrikes on Oct. 18. Even earlier than then, simply 15 p.c of the wanted supply-laden vans had entered Tigray since mid-July, the U.N. says.

A demonstrator holds an Ethiopian flag as he takes half in a rally in assist of nationwide protection forces in Addis Ababa on Sunday.EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP by way of Getty Pictures

A few of the detentions of U.N. workers occurred at the same time as U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths was in Ethiopia assembly Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and different officers to press for extra entry. The U.N. referred to as these talks “constructive.”

“It’s estimated that 80 p.c of important treatment is now not obtainable” within the area, the U.N. humanitarian company stated final week. Ethiopia’s authorities is cautious that assist supposed for civilians could also be diverted to assist the Tigray forces, and it has accused humanitarian teams of arming the fighters and of falsely inflating the size of the disaster, with out giving proof.

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Griffiths in a press release this week stated the ladies he met whereas visiting Tigray “had been desperately centered on every day survival.”

The battle in Africa’s second most populous nation has killed 1000’s of individuals and displaced thousands and thousands. Now the Tigray forces who dominated the nationwide authorities for 27 years earlier than a political falling-out with Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, are approaching Ethiopia’s capital.

Pressing diplomatic efforts by the African Union and United States for a right away cease-fire and talks reported a small window of alternative this week, however Tigray forces spokesman Getachew Reda in a tweet on Wednesday asserted that “most ‘peace initiatives’ are primarily about saving (Ethiopia’s prime minister) … Efforts that fail to handle our circumstances and the tendency to conflate humanitarian points with political ones are doomed to fail!”

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