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Ethiopia: Flights continue to Tigray

UN – The head of the United Nations had good news Wednesday amid Ethiopia’s year-long war against forces from the Tigray region: 157 trucks loaded with food and humanitarian aid have arrived Tigray’s capital for the first time in more than six weeks and another aid convoy is moving.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said UN flights between the Tigray capital Mekelle and the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa have also been restarted. They were suspended on October 22 after government air strikes forced a humanitarian flight carrying 11 passengers to abandon a landing in Mekelle.

The Tigray area has not received the necessary supplies of aid including food, medicine and fuel since the Ethiopian military began air strikes on Mekelle on October 18. Even before that, the United Nations. reported that only 15% of trucks loaded with necessary goods had reached Tigray. since mid-July. Hundreds of thousands of people in the region face starvation under what the United Nations calls a “de facto humanitarian blockade”.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said none of the 157 trucks arriving in Mekelle were carrying much-needed fuel, which is needed to deliver humanitarian aid.

However, Guterres called the resumption of aid to Tigray and the restart of UN flights “a good sign”.

He said there was also “slight hope” that they could lead to a “more positive attitude for dialogue” between the warring parties.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since November 2020 when political fighting between Tigray forces that have long dominated the national government and the incumbent government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed erupted in fighting.

Tigray forces have in recent months recaptured the Tigray region and brought the fighting into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions. The government declared a state of emergency in November as the Tigray fighters approached Addis Ababa. The United Nations says more than 2 million people have now been displaced.

Guterres and African Union Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat spoke at a joint press conference after a private meeting and both strongly supported the reconciliation effort of former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasanjo, AU special envoy .

Mahamat said Obasanjo has re-established communication between the two sides, going back and forth between Addis Ababa and Mekele three times and listening to the conditions from both sides to find a solution.

The government wants Tigray forces to return to their territory and recognize “the legitimacy of Abiy Ahmed’s government”, he said, while fighters from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front want the corridors open to humanitarian supplies, public services were restored, and Eritrean forces assisting the government withdrew.

Tigray forces say they are pressuring Abiy’s government to lift the blockade, but also want the prime minister to step aside. Earlier this year, the Ethiopian government designated Tigray forces as a terrorist group, further complicating efforts to mediate between Obasanjo and US special envoy Jeffrey Feltman over the ceasefire.

“We continue to talk to both sides, but unfortunately the fighting on the ground continues,” said Mahamat of the AU. “We have noted in recent days that, perhaps, stability is beginning to reign on the front but we have deep concerns … about a ceasefire.”

“It absolutely has to happen. Humanitarian aid needs to reach everyone who has suffered as a result of this conflict, and we need to address these issues through,” he said. political discussions and through dialogue”.

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