Tigray starvation claims don’t match TV images: Gov’t
Claims by the TPLF that people are already dying due to starvation in Tigray region does not fit into the context of mobilization of the general public to prepare food for the fighters, said Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson.
In a press conference held on September 9, 2021, Billene Seyoum noted that although the federal government could not corroborate the facts indicated, the TPLF is looting humanitarian assistance which was also testified to by the international agencies.
“While we cannot corroborate at the federal level these facts which have been given by certain individuals within the Tigray region, what I can refer back is the looting by the TPLF. Recently over the past few days, we have also seen on Tigray TV that communities have been mobilized to prepare food in support of these fighters who have been deemed terrorists by the state. So, it’s a little bit contradictory as well – the images that are coming out and the claims that are being made by the same group,” Billene said.
She added: “As to the claims that have been made with regards to deaths due to starvation, we need to look at it from the context of what has been happening with TPLF’s belligerence and many other testimonies that have been coming from international humanitarian assistance agencies as well indicating that the TPLF has been looting humanitarian assistance.”
In a recent statement issued on September 6, 2021, the TPLF said: “The Disaster and Risk Management Agency has recorded 150 deaths due to starvation in August in Mai Kinetal, Kola Tembien and Tanqua Milash in the Central zone, Hawzen in the Eastern Zone and Silawa and Enda Mekoni in the Southern zone as well as IDP camps in Shire.”
On September 2, 2021, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that less than 10 percent of the required humanitarian cargo, 2.2 percent of the necessary operational cash, and 28 percent of fuel has been able to reach Tigray since 12 July, 2021. In addition, Due to food-stock depletion, only 131,000 people were assisted with food between August 19 and 25, 2021 in the second-round assistance, down from more than 547,000 people a week earlier.
Also, OCHA indicated, an estimated 1.7 million people are facing food insecurity in Afar and Amhara regions due to the spillover of the Tigray conflict.
Billene on the other hand stated that, as of September 4, 2021, 535 trucks of humanitarian assistance have entered Tigray region and reached their destinations while more trucks are still enroute. However, there are still around 70 trucks that are not accounted for after having entered the region to deliver humanitarian assistance, she added.
In a recent visit to Ethiopia, Under-Secretary-General for OCHA, Martin Griffiths, stressed that 100 trucks a day are required to transport the needed humanitarian assistance to Tigray region. However, this has not been met so far.
On the other hand, he stressed the need for additional routes for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in addition to the Afar road linking to Tigray.
During a press briefing on August 4, 2021 that came after her short visit to Ethiopia, USAID administrator Samantha Power said: “the UN said that between 500 and 600 trucks with relief items needed to enter Tigray each week to meet current assessed needs.” she added: “I think that we have seen systems change, and for example, paperwork requirements adjusted, and timeframes compressed for the granting of permissions. We’ve seen those things change on paper, but the delays and the inability to move precious food and other items to people in need, we are just not seeing the changes that we had hoped for.”
However, the government has been repeatedly committing itself to an improved access to Tigray apart from playing roles in availing humanitarian assistance to the war torn region.
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