ADDIS ABEBA – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the government to quickly restore rule of law in Tigray as access for humanitarian aid to the region granted.
In a statement released by his Spokesperson, the UN chief António said restoring rule of law in the region would be essential. It should be conducted with “full respect for human rights, (to) promote social cohesion, an inclusive reconciliation, as well as to re-establish the delivery of public services,” he added.
Guterres has also called for unfettered access that implies “the agreement still needs to be fully operationalized — and we very much hope that that will happen”.
Officials of the UN aid coordinator or UN OCHA said last week that they were “working at full speed” to secure full aid access to Tigray, after a deal was struck to help tens of thousands of civilians displaced by the weeks of fighting between federal and regional forces.
More than 47,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled across the border into Sudan, and around 96,000 Eritrean refugees being hosted in camps in Tigray, were reported by the World Food Program (WFP) to have essentially run out of food. Many more have also been internally displaced, according to the UN.
“We also remain fully committed to mobilizing the full capacity of the United Nations to provide humanitarian support to refugees, displaced people and all populations in distress”, the Secretary-general said.
Starting from last week, some aid agencies are getting access to parts of the region with the UN refugee agency started distributing water, high energy biscuits, clothes, mattresses, sleeping mats and blankets to an estimated 5,000 internally displaced in Shire town.
UN Team shot at
The government told aid agencies including the UN to that it’s the government that is in charge of the humanitarian assistance being conducted in the region and abide by its instructions. This came after a UN team was shot at after breaking through two checkpoints.
“They broke two checkpoints to drive hastily to areas where they were not supposed to…when they were about to break the third one they were shot at and detained,” Redwan Hussein, spokesman of the government’s task force for the Tigray, told reporters.
They are now free, but, he said, any entity needs to hear understand what pertains to UN access for humanitarian assistance.
“The agreement signed is for assistance to be led and coordinated by the Ethiopian government. No entity, multilateral or unilateral can supplant the responsibility of the government,” he said. “The UN has been given access within a government-led coordination framework crafted by a sovereign nation”.
Close to 60% of food assistance for humanitarian relief comes from government coffers.