Humanitarian Flights to Tigray Must First be Checked in Addis, Govt says

ADDIS ABABA – All humanitarian flights going to Tigray region must go through Addis Ababa for ‘search and Screening’, the federal government of Ethiopia announced on Friday.

The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority has closed the northern part of airspace for all kinds of flights below flight level 290 since May 30, 2021.

However, the Government announced on Monday that it would grant special flight permission for aid agencies to provide humanitarian services in the Tigray region.

The World Food Program has requested flight permission for two airplanes that intend to fly passengers to the Tigray Region on Thursday.

Ethiopia revealed guidelines containing instructions and information that humanitarian operators should “strictly adhere to” get the flight permission.

In a statement issued today, the government said all flights coming from abroad or domestic airports in Ethiopia must first land at Addis Ababa airport before proceeding to Tigray.

“Flights coming from the prohibited airspace must also land at Addis Ababa airport before proceeding abroad or a domestic airport in Ethiopia,” it added.

The guidelines also shows all operators must submit and get approval for flight details, such as flight number, type of aircraft, the purpose of the flight, details of passenger, and type of cargo before conducting flight operations.

“It is also stated that standard search shall be conducted at Addis Ababa Bole international airport on all departing and arriving aircraft, cargos, passengers, crews, and including bulky cargos which might need dismantling for search and screening,” says the statement.

The federal Government also said any flights to or from the northern region should “carry people or equipment related to only humanitarian aid missions”.

Details of the guidelines on the flight arrangements to the Tigray Region are expected to be communicated to all interested parties and the public “via appropriate channels”, officials said.

Today’s statement also criticized the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) after allegedly engaged in misinformation regarding the situation in Tigray.

“Despite… government’s willingness to work closely with humanitarian operators, some reports, mistakenly or otherwise, have continued to misinform the international community as if the Government of Ethiopia has been obstructing flights into the Tigray region,” it says.

Officials pointed figure towards the UN agency.

The Government of Ethiopia has, therefore, written a letter to the Secretary-General of the UN “protesting the unconstructive actions” of the UN OCHA, according the statement.

The federal Government accuses the UN OCHA of disseminating inaccurate reports and statements in depicting the situation in Tigray.

“(It) has not been helpful and constructive since the beginning of the law enforcement operation in the Tigray Regional State,” the statement reads.

“The Federal Government also is under the impression that OCHA’s statements and reports seem to be framed to encourage and compliment the TPLF that have continued to fuel misperception and led the international community to misconstrue the situation in the region,” it says.

It is also revealing that the Office continues to refer to the outlawed group, which the Ethiopian parliament categorized as a terrorist organization, as the Tigrayan Defense Force (TDF), reads the statement.

The Government asked the Office “to refrain from issuing biased and misleading statements and take corrective action soon to avoid detrimental effects” on the cooperation between the Ethiopian Government and the organization.

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