Ethiopia: First foreign aid convoy enters Mekelle, says ICRC

The principal global guide caravan carrying drugs and help supplies has shown up in Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray locale, the International Committee of the Red Cross has said. 

These provisions will be given to Ayder Hospital, the Regional Health Bureau, and the ERCS drug store in Mekelle. 

“It is the main worldwide guide to show up in Mekelle since battling emitted in Tigray over one month prior,” the assertion said. 

Help trucks figured out how to enter the area in the midst of global calls for more straightforwardness into the month-long battling between Ethiopian powers and those of the outlaw Tigray provincial government. 

“Specialists and attendants have been compelled to settle on unthinkable options of which administrations to proceed and which administrations to cut, subsequent to going a long time without new supplies, running water and power,” said Patrick Youssef, ICRC’s territorial chief for Africa, following a visit to Addis Ababa. 

Youssef said the government wellbeing service additionally conveyed clinical supplies to Mekelle’s wellbeing offices.

Calls for transparency

 The Tigray region remains largely cut off from the world with food and medicine desperately needed by the population of six million – some one million now thought to be displaced.

The lack of transparency, with most communications and transport links severed, complicates efforts to verify the warring sides’ claims.

It also hides the extent of atrocities feared to have been committed since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on November 4 announced fighting had begun with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which dominated Ethiopia’s government for nearly 30 years before he came to power and sidelined it.

Each government now regards the other as illegal, as the TPLF objects to the postponement of national elections until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and sees Abiy’s mandate as expired.

The aid trucks had been ready for days, but Ethiopia’s government has repeatedly objected to what it calls external “interference” from efforts at dialogue to delivering aid, drawing on its history as the rare African country never colonised, a source of deep national pride.

ICRC’s Jeremy England, speaking to Al Jazeera from Addis Ababa, said the “main priority” is to transport “medicines, surgical supplies, and basic items that are necessary for the hospital to function”.

 “They [hospitals] are dealing with a large number of trauma patients from the conflict, but also their regular caseload,” England said.

“In Mekelle, what we’ve seen is a number of wounded persons and also displaced persons coming into that city … and the city’s own residents being deprived of power, water, communications for over a month,” he said  “However, this [aid] is in no way enough, and it’s hard to tell what’s the scale of need beyond Mekelle.”

 In neighbouring Sudan, nearly 50,000 Ethiopian refugees now take shelter. Some resist being moved to a camp away from the border in the hope that missing family members, separated by the fighting, can be found. 

Meanwhile, the United Nations on Friday said it has not been able to reach four refugee camps housing nearly 100,000 Eritreans in Tigray.

The UN and rights groups expressed growing alarm over the plight of the Eritrean refugees caught in the Ethiopian conflict, warning their safety and survival are at great risk.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it had received “an overwhelming number of disturbing reports” of  refugees being killed or kidnapped and forcibly returned to Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia’s battle-scarred Tigray region.

 “If confirmed, these actions would constitute a major violation of international law,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.