Following the violence in Tigray region, Ethiopia, the government has recently expelled seven UN officials who are accused of interfering in internal politics of the country. This as the Executive branch of the government faces pressure to lift the blockade. The main accusation from Addis Ababa is that the aid workers are in cahoots with the

Tigray forces and are supporting their efforts to destabilize the region. This has been rejected by the UN, by Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “All UN humanitarian operations are guided by the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence. In Ethiopia, the UN is delivering lifesaving aid including food, medicine, water, and sanitation supplies to people in desperate need. I have full confidence in the UN staff who are in Ethiopia doing this work. The UN is committed to helping Ethiopian people who rely on humanitarian assistance. We are now engaging with the Government of Ethiopia in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work.” He said this through a statement released by Stephanie Trembley, Associate Secretary for the Secretary General. The expulsion of the aid workers has also received harsh criticism from countries like the USA.

Two senior UN officials have also been recalled from Ethiopia by the UN after audio recordings containing criticisms of other senior officials was released online, according to a UN Population Fund spokesperson. In the recordings, the two women, who do not identify themselves in the audio, are heard talking to a journalist and accuse some of their colleagues of being sympathetic to the TPLF in their fight against the government.

At least 3 people have been killed, with more injured, following an attack by the Ethiopian forces on Mekele, the Tigrayan capital. The fatalities, all children, have been confirmed by Jens Laerke, head of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), according to a CNN report. A second airstrike injured nine people and caused damage to houses and a local hotel. On Monday, the airstrikes, which bring a new, darker outlook to the already yearlong conflict, occurred twice. One air raid in the morning on the outskirts of Mekele, near a cement factory; and a second one that struck around midday in the Mekele city centre not far from the Planet Hotel. The hotel routinely houses officials from the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, the party fighting government forces in the region, and the main military target of Addis Ababa since November 2020. The TLPF has come out to condemn the strikes, saying they were designed to inflict civilian casualties, according to TLPF spokesperson Getachew Reda, “Monday is market day in Mekele and the intention is all too palpable”, noting that the government is trying to enforce a feeling of fear in the people of Tigray and that this tactic is being used to destabilize the efforts of succession and independence that the TLPF is gunning for.

The UN has said that the Ethiopian government is only letting in a small trickle of food trucks into Tigray, with no medicine or fuel allowed in. This despite estimates of hundreds of thousands of people being in need of urgent provisions, with a growing famine crisis looming. Hospitals have also run out of crucial medicines and other consumables needed to treat patients. However, the government is denying it is deliberately throttling provisions to the region. Both sides are also accusing the other of committing atrocities, including gang-rapes and killing of civilians not involved in the conflict. One woman has claimed to have been raped in her house in Mersa, a town in the region, by armed men in plain clothes, around the end of August. “He said to me ‘we left our houses both to kill and to die. I am from the jungle so, I have l the right to do whatever I want. I can even kill you…then he raped me’”, says the woman who recounted her story, asking not to use her name to protect herself. She then went to Dessie Comprehensive hospital for post-rape treatment, which is running low on all sorts of supplies. Even the staff there do not want to answer questions for fear of reprisals from both sides, and a distrust of non-Ethiopian media.

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