SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 25 January 2022, Tuesday |

Aid workers say airstrike in Ethiopia’s Tigray kills 17, UN unable to confirm

According to two charity workers who cited local officials and eyewitnesses, an air attack in the town of Mai Tsebri in Ethiopia’s northern province of Tigray on Monday killed at least 17 people, predominantly women, and injured scores.

Due to a lack of contact in the region, the UN stated it was impossible to corroborate the reports or the number of victims. It demanded an immediate cease of hostilities as well as complete humanitarian access.

Last Friday, an air attack in Tigray killed 56 people and injured 30, including children, in a displaced people’s camp.

On Monday, US President Joe Biden expressed his worry to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over civilian fatalities and suffering caused by air attacks.

Legesse Tulu, an Ethiopian government spokeswoman, did not reply to a request for comment on the Mai Tsebri strike.

Colonel Getnet Adane, a military spokeswoman, directed Reuters to Legesse.

The government has repeatedly denied attacking civilians in the 14-month battle, which pitted Abiy’s federal troops and regional allies, supported by Eritrea, against Tigray People’s Liberation Front rebels (TPLF).

Abiy’s election as Prime Minister in 2018 marked the end of the TPLF’s 27-year reign over Ethiopia’s central government. However, the party retained power in Tigray, its home area, where conflict flared in November 2020.

Each side accuses the other of wrongdoing. The TPLF accuses Abiy of concentrating power at the expense of the regions, which he denies, while Abiy accuses the TPLF of attempting to reclaim national power, which it denies.

Thousands of civilians have been murdered, and millions have been displaced as a result of the violence. Hundreds of thousands of people are under famine-like situations.

According to a document compiled by humanitarian organisations and emailed by Reuters last week, at least 146 people have been killed and 213 injured in air strikes in Tigray since Oct. 18.

Separately, the government last Friday released several imprisoned opposition leaders, including numerous TPLF officials, and said that it would begin discussion with political opponents in attempt to build reconciliation.

On Tuesday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric reaffirmed the Secretary General’s appeals for a halt to conflict in Tigray and for “all parties to comply to their commitments under international humanitarian law.”